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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