House panel asks DOI for Deepwater Horizon inspection documents

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, June 7 -- US House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders from both sides of the aisle asked US Interior Sec. Ken Salazar to provide documents relating to the US Minerals Management Service’s inspections of the Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible drilling rig.

The vessel, which was owned by offshore drilling contractor Transocean Ltd., was destroyed in an Apr. 20 explosion that killed 11 workers when the BP PLC deepwater Gulf of Mexico well it was working on blew out. The rig sank just days later, rupturing subsea connection lines and starting oil leaks that became a major spill.

“Given the integral role of [MMS] in the oversight and inspections of drilling operations on the Deepwater Horizon, we seek…information necessary for the committee to evaluate the factors that may have contributed to the blowout and spill and the related failure of the blowout preventer,” Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and Ranking Minority Member Joe Barton (R-Tex.) said in the June 4 letter.

They requested inspection reports, investigation reports, and other documents related to MMS’s inspections of the rig within 2 weeks. The federal lawmakers also asked for “all documents related to MMS oversight of well preparation and completion procedures on the Deepwater Horizon, including any MMS reviews of well completion procedures associated with the temporary abandonment of the well at the site of the incident.”

US Reps. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), chairman of the committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee; Michael C. Burgess (R-Tex.), the subcommittee’s ranking minority member; and committee members Charlie Melancon (D-La.) and Steve Scalise (R-La.) also signed the letter.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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