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

Oil, gas infrastructure investments essential, House panel told

02/04/2015 Investments in oil and gas transportation and storage should move ahead because they are essential in continuing the US economic recovery and North...

EPA suggests DOS reconsider Keystone XL climate impact conclusions

02/03/2015 The US Department of State might want to reconsider its conclusions regarding potential climate impacts from the proposed Keystone XL crude oil pip...

Obama’s proposed fiscal 2016 budget recycles oil tax increases

02/02/2015 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...

So much for cooperation

02/02/2015 Congressional majority leaders and the Obama administration came into 2015 pledging to at least try to be less combative and more cooperative in ru...

Woodside gets NEB approval for British Columbia LNG exports

02/02/2015 Woodside Energy Holdings Pty. Ltd. has received approval from Canada’s National Energy Board on its application for a 25-year natural gas export li...

Data refute Lew's claims about taxes paid by producers

02/02/2015

On the subject of taxation, administration officials count on the public to believe anything.

Kerry expects to receive other agencies’ Keystone XL reports soon

02/02/2015 US Sec. of State John F. Kerry said he expects to receive other federal agencies and departments’ reports soon on the proposed Keystone XL crude oi...

Iran yields to Russia in talks over Caspian resources

02/02/2015 Iranian acquiescence to Russia, to which the Islamic Repubic increasingly turns in response to pressure from the West, has become a standard featur...

US oil, gas industry eager to build on past successes

02/02/2015 The US oil and gas industry entered 2015 optimistically as a dramatically improved US supply outlook's economic and security benefits became increa...
White Papers

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

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
Available Webcasts


OGJ's Midyear Forecast 2015

When Fri, Jul 10, 2015

This webcast is to be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and Senior Economic Editor Conglin Xu.  They will summarize the Midyear Forecast projections in key categories, note important changes from January’s forecasts, and examine reasons for the adjustments.

register:WEBCAST


Predictive Analytics in your digital oilfield - Optimize Production Yield and Reduce Operational Costs

When Tue, Jul 7, 2015

Putting predictive analytics to work in your oilfield can help you anticipate failures, plan and schedule work in advance, eliminate emergency work and catastrophic failures, and at the same time you can optimize working capital and improve resource utilization.  When you apply analytic capabilities to critical production assets it is possible to reduce non-productive time and increase your yield.

Learn how IBM's analytics capabilities can be applied to critical production assets with the goal of reducing non-productive time, increasing yield and reducing operations costs.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Cognitive Solutions for Upstream Oil and Gas

Fri, Jun 12, 2015

The oil & gas sector is under pressure on all sides. Reserves are limited and it’s becoming increasingly expensive to find and extract new resources. Margins are already being squeezed in an industry where one wrong decision can cost millions. Analyzing data used in energy exploration can save millions of dollars as we develop ways to predict where and how to extract the world’s massive energy reserves.

This session with IBM Subject Matter Experts will discuss how IBM Cognitive Solutions contribute to the oil and gas industry using predictive analytics and cognitive computing, as well as real time streaming for exploration and drilling.

register:WEBCAST


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

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


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