U.S. Offshore Oil Drilling Regulator Speaks Out


Image by The National Academy of Sciences via Flickr

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.

1 thought on “U.S. Offshore Oil Drilling Regulator Speaks Out

  1. The fact that regulation of contractors is now put on the table should tell the American people a lot about the nation’s regulatory processes. The Administrative Conference of the US an Executive Branch component put out of business by New Gingrich in 1994 and resurrected only recently by the Congress and headed by a distinguished lawyer Paul Verkuil has now issued a comprehensive report recommending for the first time ever that an Ethics effort be mounted for all government contractors. The major deficiency of course in that recommendation is that each federal department and agency would be responsible for issuing regulations. Hearings are expected. Because of corruption at federal agencies like the Defense Contract Audit Agency and other incompetence by GAO and OIGs many federal contractors that are huge have essentially no project monitoring, no ethics regulations, no sense of giving value for public purposes. Sounds like the Federal Reserve does it not? Oh that’s right the banks own the FED not the people of the USA.

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