Opinion: Big Day for Reports on the Oil Spill

The BOEMRE issued a news release today announcing the completion of Outer Continental Shelf Safety Oversight Board's report. Along with the report, Director Bromwich attached a foreword memorandum to Secretary Salazar, which may require an orthopedist to realign Bromwich's arm after all the self-congratulatory back patting he put forth. In summary, the OCS Safety Oversight Board rubber-stamps many of the initiatives already underway by the BOEMRE to reform itself and the industry. Besides revamping the structure of the former MMS into the BOEMRE and creating sub-entities to reduce conflicts of interest, the report calls for additional resources for the BOEMRE, ethics reform, new permitting protocols, training, an enhanced inspection program, and stronger enforcement measures. In our opinion there was really nothing new in the report, as it essentially is lip service to the reform agenda already in discussion and under implementation by the agency.

The report comes on the heels of BP's early morning release of its own internal investigation report into the errors and failures that resulted in the Macondo Well disaster. In summary, the report highlighted well design flaws (although summarized to point out that the gas causing the explosion likely came up the production casing), poorly interpreted pressure test results, equipment failures, and other mistakes made by involved parties that all contributed to the explosion and subsequent oil spill.

Under the category of you cannot make this stuff up, Lois Epstein of the Wilderness Foundation was quoted by the Houston Chronicle at yesterday's BOEMRE Forum on the incident and offshore drilling as saying "...statistics aren't enough..." while addressing the offshore industry's exemplary safety record. She appeared to be following the adage, "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story". Looks like political forces will continue milk the emotion of this situation for all its worth rather than institute solutions that will put this industry back to work in a timely fashion.


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Bruce Stephens | Sep. 9, 2010
As far as the US government is concerned my understanding is that BP cannot escape 100% responsibility for what happened simply because they took the lease but to turn that into 100% fault is factually wrong and counterproductive. Any major energy project is going to involve a network of sub-contractors with essential specialties in order to complete. It is incumbent on every sub-con to perform their part of the project to the best of their ability. A lot of auditing goes on to try and ensure that this happens but if individuals or groups choose to turn a blind eye or fabricate reports then the system is at grave risk of breaking down. BP will have to take its regulatory beating but if the companies it relied on to make this project happen are found to have breached their contractual duties then we should all support BPs efforts to make them face major consequences. The likes of Transocean and Haliburton should not be able to walk away from this with a cry of "well, BP should have stopped us!"

John Adams | Sep. 9, 2010
BP continues to blame the many subcontractors on their project. Its only my onionskin, but I believe BP to be at fault 100%. They leased the area from the US MMS. They designed the well and supervised its every operation. They called the shots. They probably were in a cost cutting mode and cut too deep into the bottom liner cost and that compromised the cement job? They also did not want to take the time to repair the BOP and instead too a chance on doing it after the well was done? Their upper management had sent the word to reduce cost at all cost. We now know the net result of that decision! Respectfully, John Adams


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