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Obama Pushes ‘Safer’ Offshore Drilling Rules

From an approving Politico:

Interior offers new offshore rules

By: Darren Goode
September 13, 2011

The Department of the Interior on Tuesday proposed a new set of workplace safety guidelines for the offshore oil and gas industry on the eve of expected major Obama administration findings regarding its investigation into last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The new proposed guidelines go about tackling some of the biggest issues raised in multiple probes into the April 10 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig that killed 11 workers and led to the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

The ‘biggest issue’ being that some evil oil company somewhere might still be crazy enough to want to drill in American waters.

It includes a requirement for third parties to independently conduct safety audits and procedures to authorize any and all employees on an offshore facility authority to stop work when witnessing any activity that poses a threat.

It also seeks to define requirements regarding who has the ultimate authority on the facility for operational safety and decision making, including during an accident. And it would add requirements for conducting a job safety analysis and guidelines for reporting unsafe work conditions.

None of which would have ever occurred to the workers on these rigs whose lives are at risk. It took the federal government to dream them up.

“We believe these are reasonable, appropriate and logical extensions” of initial workplace safety guidelines the department released in October 2010, BOEMRE [Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement] Director Michael Bromwich said in a speech Tuesday, hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The rules are part of a larger pot of environmental and safety guidelines the Obama administration has issued since last year’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Unlike initial drilling and workplace safety changes, Tuesday’s proposed rule will be followed by a 45-day public comment period — until Nov. 14 — and go through the normal rule-making process…

Which will give the radical environmentalists a chance to make them even more impossible. 

Throughout all this, the lasting effects of the administration’s moratorium and subsequent slowdown of drilling permits since the spill has been a focal point of Republicans, oil-state Democrats and other critics.

According to a recent report from investment bank FBR Capital Markets, 20 deepwater drilling rigs would leave the Gulf if U.S. regulators do not accelerate permitting.

A detail we haven’t seen reported anywhere previously. Obviously, energy costs and jobs issues aren’t a high priority for news editors right now.

The analysts blamed BOEMRE’s pace on higher safety standards and not politics for the problem.

“Rather than being political, the GOM permitting drag is more reflective of the increased work required to issue each permit and the limited bureaucratic resources available,” the report said. “As a result, we continue to expect continued slow recovery of the deepwater permitting rate.”

Because establishing ever more stringent safety requirements could never be politically motivated.

Bromwich stuck behind the pace of his agency’s work. “The amount of work being accomplished every day by this relatively small bureau is quite remarkable,” he said. This includes prepping for the first lease sale since the spill in the Western Gulf in December, a sale in the Central Gulf in late spring and reviewing proposals to drill in the Arctic next summer, he said…

Wow, they are a whirlwind of in-activity.

“Not everyone, however, is willing to see the facts as they are, nor to appreciate the level of effort of our personnel, nor to recognize that additional requirements designed to enhance the safety of offshore operations and protection of offshore operations mean that plan and permit approvals do not proceed at the same pace as they did in the past,” Bromwich added.

He said he continues to be “disappointed to see politically motivated, erroneous reports and commentaries, sponsored by various industry associations and groups, criticizing the bureau of allegedly ‘slow-walking’ permits and plans. That is a phrase we see repeated over and over again, and it is simply not true.”

You see, only paid political stooges would complain about the lack of domestic drilling in this country.

BOEMRE says that as of Sept. 12, 74 new shallow water well permits have been granted since new safety and environmental standards were issued in early June last year. Thirteen permits are pending, and 10 have been returned for more information. The bureau has approved 129 permits for 40 unique wells requiring subsea containment since a new well containment system was demonstrated in mid-February, with 12 permits pending and 23 returned to the operator for more information. The agency also has approved 45 permits, with one pending and one returned, for other activities

Notice that we are not told how many new oil wells have begun drilling in the Gulf since the BP spill. Which would suggest that the number is probably very close to zero.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, September 14th, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

5 Responses to “Obama Pushes ‘Safer’ Offshore Drilling Rules”

  1. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Pure socialism in action. (or is it “inaction”?)

    Make more rules, slow everything down, make it so legislatively impossible that no one will be willing to fork over any money to wade through it. Bureaucracy. Also, more national socialist operatives in the form of bureaucrats who have a vested interest in perpetuating the BS because their salaries depend on it. Plus, they get the added perk of being accepted to the national socialist society dinners and being addressed by party leaders. More like the Soviet Union every day.

    Simple, and oh-so-typical.

  2. Petronius says:

    “… 20 deepwater drilling rigs would leave the Gulf if U.S. regulators do not accelerate permitting.”

    I’m pleased to learn there are 20 deepwater rigs still left in the Gulf.

    Last year many of the Gulf rigs were shipped to Africa and South America, where the business climate is friendlier.


  3. BigOil says:

    Shockingly, it is common practice in the industry to do a job safety analysis before any job begins. Beyond that, every project we develop has more safety considerations built into the designs than could ever be mentioned. But the whole industry has been deemed unsafe by our federal overlords until some third-party with limited knowledge – and nothing at stake but their own self interest – shows up to administer their blessing. Insanity.

    At least we can be comforted that the whiny bureaucrats are busy on our behalf.

  4. Georgfelis says:

    No drilling = no accidents = perfect safety record

    What could possibly be better than perfect! We can all sit in the dark in our caves and rejoice in the perfect world Our Leaders have given us….

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