This past month, the Joint Investigation Team of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement and the U.S. Coast Guard released its final report analyzing the Macondo incident (BP oil-well blowout) that occurred in 2010. Within the detailed and thorough report, there were recommendations made in how best to upgrade and enhance the regulatory structure and industrial prowess for offshore drilling at the BOEMRE. In reading these, I was struck by the similarities in the suggestions made in the report and the overhauls already enacted at the BOEMRE and the additional, voluntary requirements industry has adopted.
Throughout what I still consider to be an unnecessary six-month moratorium, the oil and gas industry remained committed to the highest levels of safety by voluntarily creating and designing the Marine Well Containment Co. This is part of an effort to improve prevention, well intervention and spill response. When it became evident that the permit process needed drastic improvement, the industry and state government officials worked with the BOEMRE to improve the efficiency of the permit review process. While we are still not happy with the pace of things by any stretch of the matter, they are getting marginally better.
Despite this slowdown, the industry is getting back to work. For example, just this past month, Chevron announced a major discovery in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico on a well that the company began drilling in early 2010. Also this past month, BP submitted its first deepwater exploration plan since Deepwater Horizon. The company’s 212-page plan includes a number of measures that go above and beyond current BOEMRE requirements. This indicates BP’s confidence in its lessons learned from its detailed analysis of what led to the Macondo incident. BP’s pledge and singular focus to doing the job safely are guiding the company through the next steps as it returns to the Gulf of Mexico.
Week after week, more and more companies are getting back to work in the Gulf of Mexico, and this commitment to the region underscores its importance to this country’s energy mix. I am proud to be part of an industry that is answering the call in a responsible and safe way, all while continuing to provide good, high-paying jobs that fuel America’s energy security.
Chris John, president
La. Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association