First sign of the new regulatory office at the Dept. of Interior flexing its muscles. According to Pro Publica on April 27, Chief Offshore Drilling Regulator Criticizes Lack of Oversight for Contractors.
The top regulator of offshore drilling said this week that his agency is exploring expanding its oversight to include thousands of contractors on offshore rigs. The majority of offshore oil workers in the Gulf of Mexico are contractors and the their central role in safety issues came into focus after last year’s Gulf oil spill. BP had leased the Deepwater Horizon rig from the contractor Transocean and relied on the contractor Halliburton to provide casing for the Macondo well.
The government currently regulates only operators of offshore drilling rigs, such as BP, and in turn holds them responsible for any contractors they hire. Experts say that by delegating the supervision of contractors the government is essentially taking the word of rig operators that facilities are safe and comply with regulation.As Reuters reported Monday, the director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, Michael Bromwich, said he thinks his agency has the authority to oversee contractors and that he intends to do so.
Brownwich expanded on his comments Tuesday at a recruiting event at Columbia University attended by a ProPublica reporter. “It makes absolutely no sense to me why we should not regulate contractors as well as operators,” said Bromwich. “Historically we have only gone against the operator. My question is: why?”
Overseeing contractors could drastically expand Bromwich’s mandate, and it’s not clear whether his agency has sufficient resources to do it.