Issue Date: December 19, 2011
Reforms Urged For Offshore Drilling
Many changes to oil and gas drilling activities in U.S. waters are recommended in a report released last week by a National Research Council engineering panel. The panel reviewed events leading up to the April 20, 2010, BP oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. The report says that although companies ultimately have the expertise and responsibility for well design and operation, they must be required to meet explicit goals developed and overseen by a single regulator. Currently, eight agencies regulate offshore drilling, it notes. In addition, regulatory oversight needs more resources, the report says, pointing out that one federal inspector oversees 54 Gulf rigs. The report also recommends better training and education for regulators and workers. Despite criticisms, it called recent Department of Interior regulatory reforms a “good first step.” The report also says industry’s trust in a blowout preventer (BOP) device to stop oil flow was “misplaced” and urged that the BOP system be redesigned, rigorously tested, and better maintained.
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