BSEE issues 15 initial citations based on JIT's final report

The US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) issued an initial round of citations resulting from the Joint Investigation Team’s final report on the April 2010 Macondo well blowout and crude oil spill. Fifteen citations were issued Oct. 12 as Incidents of Non-Compliance (INCs) to BP PLC, the well’s operator; offshore drilling contractor Transocean Ltd.; and well services supplier Halliburton Co.

BSEE notified the companies of the INCs one day before the US House Natural Resources Committee was scheduled to hold a hearing about JIT’s final report. Witnesses will include JIT co-chairmen David Dykes, from the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement, and Hung Nguyen from the US Coast Guard, the two federal entities which conducted the investigation. BSEE was established on Oct. 1 when it assumed the federal offshore resources safety and environmental oversight responsibilities previously handled by BOEMRE. Other witnesses will include two more federal officials and representatives of the three companies.

“The issuance of INCs to BP, Transocean, and Halliburton is an important step in addressing the regulatory violations found during the joint investigation,” said Michael R. Bromwich, BSEE’s interim director who previously led BOEMRE and a scheduled witness. “The joint investigation clearly revealed the violation of numerous federal regulations designed to protect the integrity of offshore operations; these INCs are the next step in vindicating the regulatory program designed to protect the interests of the public.”

The BOEMRE-USCG JIT released its final report on Sept. 14 about the deepwater incident. BSEE said in its announcement that the report covered investigation areas under BOEMRE’s jurisdiction, including findings on the direct and contributing causes of the Macondo blowout and the resulting explosion and fire aboard the Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible rig which took 11 lives.

The agency noted that this was the first time the Department of the Interior issued INCs directly to a contractor that was not the well’s operator. It said the decision reflected the incident’s severity, the investigation’s findings, and US Sec. of the Interior Ken Salazar and Bromwich’s commitment to hold all parties accountable.

BP received seven INCs, while Transocean and Halliburton each received four. All three companies were cited for failing to protect health, safety, property, and the environment by failing to perform all operations in a safe and workmanlike manner; for failing to keep the well under control at all times; and for not preventing the discharge of pollutants into offshore waters. The companies will have 60 days to appeal the INCs, after which the citations will be reviewed for possible imposition of fines, BSEE said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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