Safety and Environmental Protection


Offshore Safety in the Wake of the Macondo Disaster

Jacqueline L. Weaver, A.A. White Professor of Law at the University of Houston Law Center has published a two part article entitled  “Offshore Safety in the Wake of the Macondo Disaster in the Houston Journal of International Law.  Part I (v36 n 1) is subtitled “Business as Usual or Sea Change?” and Part II v36 n2) is subtitled “The Role of the Regulator”.  Her analysis is tied closely to the analysis and recommendations of the BP-Deepwater Horizon oil spill Commission.  Copies of the journal are available HERE.

Offshore regulators promise to keep eye on bad actors

Maritime and drilling regulators vowed Thursday to keep a closer watch on oil companies and contractors they say are consistently cutting corners on safety offshore.  The Coast Guards assistant commandant for prevention policy, Rear Adm. Joseph Servidio, and Brian Salerno, director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, delivered that message directly to oil industry representatives on the final day of the Offshore Technology Conference.  Servidio said the Coast Guard will consider launching unannounced inspections of oil and gas industry vessels after some logged more than five deficiencies during scheduled probes.         Read More

US Coast Guard Proposes change in casualty reporting requirements

The U.S. Coast Guard plans to require foreign vessels to comply with U.S. casualty reporting requirements following the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Coast Guard investigators concluded the casualty reporting requirements for foreign-flag outer continental shelf (OCS) units were “insufficient.” They said that if two other incidents in 2008, involving flooding and total loss of power, had been investigated, contributing factors in the 2010 disaster could have been addressed and remedied.  The proposed regulation is available HERE

Inspector General reviews progress by Coast Guard in implementing Recommendations from Deepwater Horizon after Action Reports

After the 2010 BP oil spill, the Coast Guard received 534 recommendations to improve response to similar disasters. But a new report by the inspector general (IG) for the Coast Guard’s parent agency says faulty documentation makes it impossible to determine how many of those recommendations have been carried out.  The report is available HERE

BSEE Director Salerno summarizes agency’s efforts to improve safety

In remarks delivered at the Second Annual Center for Offshore Safety Forum, Director Salerno summarized BSEE’s efforts to improve offshore drilling safety.  His remarks are available HERE.  The Director has also started making weekly comments on safety in his “Director’s Corner”.

Congress Prodded on Offshore-Drilling Safety

Three years after an investigation into the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, members of a presidential panel say Congress has failed to adopt needed offshore-drilling safety reforms and environmental protections.        Read More

Interior proposes tightening 1988 production-safety rule

The Interior Department today proposed a new rule designed to strengthen the safety of offshore oil and gas production technologies as industry reaches into deeper and riskier waters. While much of the Obama administration’s reform efforts following the BP PLC oil spill have focused on exploration, the proposed rule would apply to the more than 3,000 offshore facilities involved in the collection and treatment of oil and gas from wells

The BSEE Fact Sheet is HERE.  The Proposed Rule is HERE

Deepwater Horizon forced culture change on oil and gas industry

Financial Times

The presidential commission investigation ^ into the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster which reported in January 2011, was clear in its criticism not only of BP and the other companies involved, but also of the offshore oil industry as a whole.

The mistakes made by BP Halliburton and Transocean, it said, “reveal such systematic failures in risk management that they place in doubt the safety culture of the entire industry”.

While the offshore oil and gas industry has clearly not been stopped, it has been changed in many ways.

Not everyone in the industry accepted publicly that it had to change after Deepwater Horizon. In private, however, there is a wide acceptance among industry executives that the accident made them think again about all of their risk management and safety policies and practices.      Read More

BSEE Announces Final Safety Culture Policy Statement

Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement

“The non-regulatory statement defines nine characteristics that are indicative of a robust safety culture.  The policy statement will inform BSEE’s regulatory approach to lead the offshore oil and gas industry beyond a checklist-inspection approach toward a systemic, comprehensive approach to compliance.”      Read More

The statement is available HERE

BSEE and Coast Guard Sign Agreement to Improve Offshore Oversight


This MOA ensures a comprehensive, joint approach to safety and environmental management. Together, BSEE and the Coast Guard will use this agreement to establish a process for the identification of offshore safety and environmental management requirements within the jurisdiction of both agencies and to spur the development of joint policies and guidance. The agreement also provides a mechanism to ensure that all future regulations, policies and guidance are enforced consistently by both agencies.        Read More

BSEE to Establish Ocean Energy Safety Institute

BSEE Press Release

The Institute will provide a forum for dialogue, shared learning and cooperative research among academia, government, industry and other non-government organizations in offshore-related technologies and activities that ensure safe operations with limited impact to the environment.      Read More

Ocean Conservancy issues Gulf Environmental Atlas

The Ocean Conservancy

The 232 page atlas, entitled The Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem: A Coastal and Marine Atlas includes maps and companion descriptions of 54 physical and geographic features, animals, habitats, environmental stressors and human uses in the Gulf of Mexico.      Read More

Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee issue report entitled “Dangerous Drillers: Offshore Safety Lapses Continue Three Years After BP Spill”

House Democrats on the Natural Resources Committee

The Democratic staff of the House Natural Resources Committee analyzed data from the Department of the Interior (DOI)—including company-by-company data, to assess progress over the last three years, comparing accidents, inspections, violations and civil penalties before and after BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster. The data show some notable improvements….However, some companies continue to suffer safety lapses. Companies with the most serious environmental or safety violations before the BP spill are still racking up the most violations today.      Read More


BSEE issues Proposed SEMS II Rule

The Safety and Environmental Management Systems (SEMS) II final rule enhances the original SEMS rule, also known as the Workplace Safety Rule, which was issued in October 2010. It provides greater protection by supplementing operators’ SEMS programs with greater employee participation, empowering field level personnel with safety management decisions, and strengthening oversight by requiring audits to be conducted by accredited third-parties.      Read More


BOEM Releases draft EIS for Eastern Gulf

Allowing 465,200 unleased areas in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico to go up for sale for potential oil and gas development would cause “minimal” impacts to coastal and offshore water quality, low impact to wetlands and some “adverse, but not significant impacts to marine mammal populations,” Read More


American Petroleum Institute announces new standards under development
American Petroleum Institute

The American Petroleum Institute (API), with the assistance of other interested parties, continues to develop standards, both national and international, in several areas. This notice lists the standardization efforts currently being conducted by API committees. The publication of this notice by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on behalf of API is being undertaken as a public service. Read More


Oil and Gas Producers and API create task force on international standards
Oil and Gas Producers

US and European trade sanctions against several countries have made the development of globally accepted international standards for the oil & gas industry more of a challenge than ever. Responding to this situation, OGP and the American Petroleum Institute (API) have created a joint task force and steering committee. Its aim: to work the issue and help to continue generating the standards that the industry needs. Read More


BSEE issues a draft safety culture policy statement

SUMMARY: The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) is issuing this Draft Statement of Policy to announce its expectation that individuals and organizations performing or overseeing activities regulated by BSEE establish and maintain a positive safety culture commensurate with the significance of their activities and the nature and complexity of their organizations and functions. The BSEE defines safety culture as the core values and behaviors resulting from a collective commitment by leaders and individuals to emphasize safety, over competing goals, to ensure protection of people and the environment. Read More


After spill, offshore enforcement remains murky

Nearly three years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the government agency that oversees offshore energy development still uses an opaque and unwieldy enforcement process that appears to give companies more leverage than the regulators policing them. Read More


BSEE issues Final Drilling Safety Rule

The Final Drilling Safety Rule refines the Interim Final Rule by addressing requirements for compliance with documents incorporated by reference;

  • enhancing the description and classification of well-control barriers;
  • defining testing requirements for cement;
  • clarifying requirements for the installation of dual mechanical barriers;
  • and extending requirements for BOPs and well-control fluids to well-completions, workovers, and decommissioning operations.

Read More


BOEM releases draft supplemental EIS for gulf lease sales

This Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement addresses two proposed Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and gas lease sales: Western Planning Area (WPA) Lease Sale 233 and Central Planning Area (CPA) This Supplemental EIS’s analysis focuses on updating the baseline conditions and potential environmental effects of oil and natural gas leasing. exploration,… Read More


New report recommends well control improvements to industry
International Association of Oil & Gas Producers

the report recommends improvements to current well control training, examination and certification processes, and some of the related philosophies that should be adopted throughout the industry to improve well control preparedness and performance for all types of operations conducted on all wells worldwide. Read More


European offshore safety measure advances

Oil and gas operators seeking licenses to drill offshore Europe would have to prepare major hazard reports and prove they have the financial strength to repair any environmental damage under an offshore safety proposal advancing in the European Parliament. Read More


BSEE Releases Offshore Drilling Safety Rule

The rule finalizes new standards for well casing and cementing, including integrity testing requirements and third-party verification of blowout preventers (BOPs), It also finalizes requirements and function testing for subsea secondary BOP intervention along with documented inspections and maintenance for BOPs, and requires a professional engineer to certify casing and cementing requirements, among other steps. Other changes from the interim rule include the description and classification of well control barriers, the definition of testing requirements for cement, and clarification of requirements for the installation of dual mechanical barriers. It also extended the requirements for BOPs and well control fluids to well completions, workovers and decommissioning operations. Read More


Interior’s Reorganization Complete, but Challenges Remain in Implementing New Requirements
Government Accountability Office

Interior continues to face challenges following its reorganization that may affect its ability to oversee oil and gas activities in the Gulf of Mexico. Specifically, Interior’s capacity to identify and evaluate risk remains limited, raising questions about the effectiveness with which it allocates its oversight resources. Interior also continues to experience difficulties in implementing effective information technology systems, such as those that aid exploration and development plan reviews. It also continues to face workforce planning challenges, including hiring, retaining, and training staff. Moreover, Interior does not have current strategic plans to guide its information technology.. Read More


Chemical Safety Board held a two day public hearing on improving risk indicators for offshore drilling 
U.S. Chemical Safety Board, By U.S. Chemical Safety Board, July, 2012

The Chemical Safety Board held a two day public hearing on improving risk indicators for offshore drilling with 22 papers being presented including several presenting the preliminary results of the Boards findings. Read More


Evaluating the Effectiveness of Offshore Safety and Environmental Management Systems
The Marine Board of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies, Committee on the Effectiveness of Safety and Environmental Management Systems for Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Operations

To ensure the effectiveness of recently mandated Safety and Environmental Management System (SEMS) programs for offshore drilling and production operations, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) should take a holistic approach that modifies some of its existing practices, says a new report from the National Research Council. These should include inspections, operator audits, bureau audits, key performance indicators, and a “whistleblower” program. The report emphasizes using cooperation and consultation to further develop a culture of safety.  Read More