Regulatory Reform in Response to the Deepwater Horizon

lickforkabsorbingOil and Offshore

Nov 8, 2013 (4 years and 6 months ago)


n response to the Deepwater Horizon explosion and
resulting oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Obama
Administration launched the most aggressive and
comprehensive reforms to offshore oil and gas
regulation and oversight in U.S. history. The reforms,
which strengthen requirements
for everything from well design
and workplace safety to corporate
accountability, are helping ensure
that the U.S. can safely and respon-
sibly expand development of its
energy resources.
In selecting Michael R.
Bromwich to lead the Bureau
of Ocean Energy Management,
Regulation and Enforcement
(BOEMRE) in June 2010, President Barack Obama
and Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Ken
Salazar issued a mandate to reform the government’s
regulation of offshore energy development and the
agency responsible for it.
Under the leadership of Secretary Salazar and
Director Bromwich, DOI and BOEMRE are making
changes in an attempt to restore the American people’s
confidence in the safety and environmental protection
of oil and gas drilling and production on the U.S. Outer
Continental Shelf, ensuring that responsible oil and gas
development continues.


BOEMRE has launched aggressive, comprehensive
reforms to offshore oil and gas regulation and oversight.
Well Informed
•Operators must demonstrate that they are prepared
to deal with the potential for a blowout and worst-case
discharge per NTL-06.
•Permit applications for drilling projects must meet
new standards for well-design, casing and cementing
and be independently certified by a professional engi-
neer per the new Drilling Safety Rule. Drilling stan-
dards in the exploration and development stages, for
equipment, safety practices, environmental safeguards
and oversight, will be strengthened.
•New guidance, through NTL-10, requires a corpo-
rate compliance statement and review of subsea blow-
out containment resources for deepwater drilling, a key
lesson of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
•BOEMRE announced that the bureau will begin to
use multiple-person inspection teams for offshore oil
and gas inspections. This internal process improvement
will improve oversight and will help ensure that off-
shore operations proceed safely and responsibly. The
new process will allow teams to inspect multiple oper-
ations simultaneously and thoroughly, and will enhance
the quality of inspections on larger facilities.
BOEMRE has imposed, for the first time, require-
ments that offshore operators maintain comprehensive
safety and environmental programs. This includes
performance-based standards for offshore drilling and
production operations, including equipment, safety
practices, environmental safeguards, and management
oversight of operations and contractors. Companies
launched aggres-
sive, comprehensive
reforms to offshore
oil and gas regula-
tion and oversight.
in Response
to the
Well Informed
Well Informed
will now need to develop and maintain a Safety and
Environmental Management System per the new
Workplace Safety Rule.
Ongoing Improvements
to the Offshore Regulator
The reorganization and internal reforms that
BOEMRE is implementing are designed to remove the
complex and sometimes conflicting missions of the for-
mer Minerals Management Service (MMS) by clarify-
ing and separating these missions across three agencies
and by providing each of the new agencies with clear
areas of focus and new resources necessary to fulfill
those missions:
•In the place of the former MMS, it is creating three
strong, independent agencies with clearly defined roles
and missions through a comprehensive reorganization.
•In his first week, Director Bromwich established an
Investigations and Review Unit to root out problems
within the regulatory agency and to target companies
that aim to game the system.
•The bureau has implemented a new recusal policy
for BOEMRE employees to deal with real and per-
ceived conflicts of interest.
•Secretary Salazar and Director Bromwich launched
a full review of the use of National Environmental
Policy Act (NEPA), categorical exclusions, during
which they are not used to approve proposed deepwa-
ter drilling projects.
•As part of the reorganization, BOEMRE has cre-
ated multiple implementation teams tasked with ana-
lyzing various aspects of bureau’s regulatory structure
and helping to implement the reform agenda.
•Secretary Salazar and Director Bromwich estab-
lished the Ocean Energy Safety Advisory Committee,
a permanent advisory body of the nation’s leading sci-
entific, engineering and technical experts who provide
critical guidance on improving offshore drilling safety,
well containment and spill response.
•BOEMRE believes that public input is critical as it
safely explores and develops offshore resources. Public
comment is solicited in its environmental review and
regulatory programs for both oil and gas and renew-
able energy proposals. This is critical to science-based
decision-making that is transparent and accessible.
•Director Bromwich launched a recruitment cam-
paign to expand the bureau’s field of inspectors and
engineers, receiving more than 500 applications in
2 weeks.
•Director Bromwich also embarked on an April
2011 recruitment campaign to expand the field of
environmental scientists, with visits to more than 10
top universities across the country. BOEMRE will hire
environmental scientists to do work in fields ranging
from environmental studies to NEPA review to envi-
ronmental compliance—all of which are critical to
the balanced development of offshore resources. The
bureau received more than 2,000 applications during a
6-week tour. x
underscoring its commitment to the stewardship of the
maritime environment.
Volume II includes findings on the causes, both
direct and contributing, of the Macondo blowout and
the resulting explosion and fire aboard the Deepwater
Horizon. In Volume II, JIT details evidence devel-
oped during the investigation and concludes that BP,
Transocean and Halliburton’s conduct in connection
with the Deepwater Horizon disaster violated many
federal offshore safety regulations under BOEMRE’s
Volume II also includes recommendations for
the continued improvement of the safety of offshore
In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy,
BOEMRE launched the most aggressive and com-
prehensive reforms to offshore oil and gas regulation
and oversight in U.S. history. The reforms strengthen
requirements for everything from well design and
workplace safety to corporate accountability. An addi-
tional rule, which will be made available for public
comment, will incorporate additional safety require-
ments related to the findings of the investigation. x
resulting oil spill and to make recommendations for
safe operations of future oil and gas activities on the
U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. JIT held seven sessions
of public hearings, received testimony from more than
80 witnesses and experts and reviewed a large number
of documents and exhibits pertaining to all aspects of
the investigation.
Volume I, released April 22, 2011, includes find-
ings on five aspects of the disaster under Coast Guard
jurisdiction, including the explosions on the mobile
offshore drilling unit (MODU) Deepwater Horizon; the
resulting fire; evacuations; the flooding and sinking of
the Deepwater Horizon; and the safety systems of the
MODU and its owner, Transocean. The Coast Guard’s
final action memo
details actions directed
by Admiral Papp, as
a result of JIT’s work,
reflecting the Coast
Guard’s commitment
to all of those affected
by this event and
Deepwater Horizon Final Report
continued from page 1

•Admiral Papp/Director Bromwich Cover Memo
•Volume I
•Volume II