Macondo spill response coordinator picked to lead BSEE

US Sec. of the Interior Ken Salazar appointed US Coast Guard Rear Adm. James A. Watson IV as director of the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). Watson, who was federal on-scene coordinator for the government’s response to the 2010 Macondo deepwater well incident, will succeed BSEE Interim Director Michael R. Bromwich on Dec. 1, Salazar said.

Watson was deputy commander of USCG’s Atlantic Area Command when he was chosen to coordinate the federal response after the BP PLC well blew out on April 20, 2010, and the semisubmersible rig drilling it caught fire and exploded, killing 11 workers. The rig, Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon, sank a day later, setting off a massive crude oil leak as its flow lines ruptured.

Watson, who currently serves as USCG’s prevention policy director for marine safety, security, and stewardship, will take the helm of the Interior agency formed to enforce offshore oil and gas safety and environmental regulations following the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement’s division into two separate units.

Bromwich, who became BOEMRE’s director following its formation from the old US Minerals Management Service and remained to lead BSEE until a permanent director could be found, will stay at DOI as a counselor to the secretary through December to ensure a smooth transition, Salazar said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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