BOEMRE considers widening regulation beyond producers

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Apr. 13 -- The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement is considering an expansion of its regulatory reach beyond offshore oil and gas well operators to drilling contractors and service and supply companies, BOEMRE Director Michael R. Bromwich said on Apr. 12. The idea stems from lessons learned after the Macondo well accident and oil spill nearly a year ago, he and US Interior Sec. Ken Salazar told reporters.

Bromwich said the idea grew from resistance BOEMRE investigators encountered following the accident from companies working for BP PLC, Macondo’s operator. He said US Department of Interior lawyers subsequently told him that the agency’s reach applies only to operators, and that it could not compel drilling contractors and service and supply companies to cooperate.

“We’re very interested in moving aggressively and responsibly,” Bromwich said during a briefing at DOI headquarters, adding that legislative authorization may be needed. Salazar said BOEMRE also needs congressional approval to increase the 30-day offshore drilling permit approval time limit, which the 2005 Energy Policy Act established to 90 days.

“We have moved forward with what has been a sprint of reforms,” the secretary said. “Can we do more? Absolutely, but we need legislation authorizing it.” He said the continuing resolution that Congress was expected to approve increases BOEMRE’s budget through Sept. 30, but added that DOI and the agency expect a fight as Congress starts working on their requests for fiscal 2012.

“Will we be fully successful? Probably not,” said Salazar. “But we’ll fight hard.” Reforms in the past 9 months have enhanced drilling and offshore workplace safety as BOEMRE has reorganized to eliminate conflicting missions and improve its safety and environmental enforcement, he continued.

Congressional failure to pass a budget hampered some improvement efforts, he said. “We could have started a lot sooner to hire more inspectors and staff,” Salazar said, noting that Bromwich still has recruited new employees aggressively from major US universities’ petroleum engineering departments.

Bromwich said the first deepwater exploration plan since the accident and spill was approved in 30 days, but only because Shell Offshore promptly resubmitted it with the necessary additional information. Others could take longer, “and that could make our point that, as an agency, we need more than 30 days to approve offshore drilling permits,” he said.

Salazar said several oil and gas trade associations and individual companies acknowledged that changes were needed as more was learned about what led to the accident and spill. “We have seen signs that many recognize that this is a post-Macondo world,” he said. “But no one is saying that everything is being done that needs to be done.”

“Several companies have said it was a wake-up call,” said Bromwich. “Others said that it was an anomaly. I think that’s been debunked by the president’s commission, which said there were 79 previous incident which were nearly as serious. That’s 79 near-Macondos. We have to be clear-eyed about this and recognize there’s no way we can make the risks zero. But we can make them as low as possible.” 

Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

Related Articles

Renewed uncertainty emerges over Greater Sunrise development

02/10/2015 There has been renewed uncertainty over the development of the Woodside Petroleum Ltd.-operated Greater Sunrise gas field in the Timor Sea followin...

Senators’ bill aims to curb flaring by expediting permit process

02/09/2015 North Dakota and Wyoming’s US senators introduced legislation that aims to capture methane and reduce flaring by expediting procedures for obtainin...

Association presidents want more access in next 5-year OCS plan

02/09/2015 The presidents of three major US oil and gas trade associations urged the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to keep more of the US Outer Contine...

After Keystone nod, Congress should okay ANWR leasing

02/09/2015 Now that it has passed legislation supporting the Keystone XL pipeline, Congress should approve oil and gas leasing of the Arctic National Wildlife...

White House proposes making ANWR coastal plain wilderness

02/09/2015 The Obama administration said it will propose managing more of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, including its coastal plain, as wilderness.

Obama's proposed fiscal 2016 budget recycles oil tax increases

02/09/2015 US President Barack Obama has proposed his federal budget for fiscal 2016 that he said was designed to help a beleaguered middle class take advanta...

Watching Government: EPA's ozone proposal

02/09/2015 Witnesses from the US oil and gas industry and other businesses strongly spoke out on Jan. 29 against the US Environmental Protection Agency's prop...

Chinese regulators approve Sinopec’s plan for grassroots refinery

02/06/2015 China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has approved Sinopec Beijing Yanshan Petrochemical Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of China Nation...

BOEM schedules public meetings about draft proposed 5-year OCS plan

02/06/2015 The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will hold the first of 20 public meetings in Washington on Feb. 9 to receive public comments on potential ...
White Papers

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by

The impact of aging infrastructure in process manufacturing industries

Process manufacturing companies in the oil and gas, utilities, chemicals and natural resource industri...
Sponsored by

What is System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis?

This paper will explain some of the fundamentals of System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis and demonstrate...
Available Webcasts


The Alternative Fuel Movement: Four Need-to-Know Excise Tax Complexities

When Thu, Jun 4, 2015

Discussion on how to approach, and ultimately embrace, the alternative fuel market by pulling back the veil on excise tax complexities. Taxes may be an aggravating part of daily operations, but their accuracy is crucial in your path towards business success.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Prevention, Detection and Mitigation of pipeline leaks in the modern world

Thu, Apr 30, 2015

Preventing, detecting and mitigating leaks or commodity releases from pipelines are a top priority for all pipeline companies. This presentation will look at various aspects related to preventing, detecting and mitigating pipeline commodity releases from a generic and conceptual point of view, while at the same time look at the variety of offerings available from Schneider Electric to meet some of the requirements associated with pipeline integrity management. 

register:WEBCAST


Global LNG: Adjusting to New Realities

Fri, Mar 20, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s March 20, 2015, webcast will look at how global LNG trade will be affected over the next 12-24 months by falling crude oil prices and changing patterns and pressures of demand. Will US LNG production play a role in balancing markets? Or will it add to a growing global oversupply of LNG for markets remote from easier natural gas supply? Will new buyers with marginal credit, smaller requirements, or great need for flexibility begin to look attractive to suppliers? How will high-cost, mega-projects in Australia respond to new construction cost trends?

register:WEBCAST


US Midstream at a Crossroads

Fri, Mar 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Mar. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on US midstream companies at an inflection point in their development in response to more than 6 years shale oil and gas production growth. Major infrastructure—gas plants, gathering systems, and takeaway pipelines—have been built. Major fractionation hubs have expanded. Given the radically changed pricing environment since mid-2014, where do processors go from here? What is the fate of large projects caught in mid-development? How to producers and processors cooperate to ensure a sustainable and profitable future? This event will serve to set the discussion table for the annual GPA Convention in San Antonio, Apr. 13-16, 2015.

This event is sponsored by Leidos Engineering.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected