US halts offshore drilling on wells with faulty bolts

Drilling regulators directed offshore operators to halt work on oil and gas wells in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico after discovering faulty bolts on equipment used to prevent blowouts.

Drillers were told to replace bolts made by General Electric Co. used on equipment including blowout preventers, according to a Jan. 29 safety alert issued by the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. The flaw was discovered after a leak of drilling mud from a Gulf well was blamed on the failure of bolts.

Operators using blowout preventers with connectors fastened by the faulty bolts were told to suspend work until the bolts are replaced, according to the safety alert.

A spokesman for the bureau, which is part of the Interior Department, wasn’t immediately available for comment on the alert or the industry’s reaction.