James A. Watson has resigned as director of the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, and will become president of ABS Inc., a maritime and offshore classification services organization in Houston, in early September.
Watson assumed BSEE’s helm in December 2011 after serving as the US Coast Guard’s Director of Prevention Policy for Marine Safety, Security, and Stewardship, and being federal on-scene coordinator for the government-wide response to the 2010 crude oil spill from BP PLC’s Macondo deepwater well blowout in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico (OGJ Online, Nov. 14, 2011).
“Director Watson has served with distinction and has helped implement the most aggressive and comprehensive offshore oil and gas regulatory reforms in the nation’s history,” US Sec. of the Interior Sally Jewell said. “His commitment to safety at all levels and at all times will have deep and meaningful benefits for the men and women of America’s offshore industry who continue to help fuel our domestic energy future.”
Under Watson’s direction, BSEE developed a final drilling safety rule to implement reforms developed following the Macondo well incident and spill, completed a final Safety and Environmental Systems rule to improve offshore workplace safety, and established Interior’s safety culture policy statement to define characteristics of a robust offshore safety culture.
The National Ocean Industries Association expressed disappointment at the news of Watson’s departure. “Director Watson took the time to understand the offshore energy industry and was always willing to meet with industry members to discuss mutual issues and concerns,” NOIA Pres. Randall B. Luthi said.
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