The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) still needs to complete three out of seven recommendations to improve the offshore oil and gas permitting process.
According to the U.S. Department of Interior’s (DOI) Office of Inspector General (OIG), extensive analysis following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in 2010 provided the Federal Government, States, and private businesses a critical opportunity to significantly change policies and processes to promote safe and effective drilling in the waters of the Outer Continental Shelf. As one of the Federal entities involved in this review, DOI’s Office of Inspector General made seven recommendations intended to improve the offshore oil and gas permitting process.
Following Federal reorganization of the Minerals Management Service, which had oversight of the offshore oil and gas program, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) inherited OIG recommendations pertaining to the permit process for offshore oil and gas drilling.
“We reviewed BSEE’s progress on those recommendations, as well as its current management of the oil and gas permitting process,” said OIG in the release. “We found that BSEE still needs to complete three of the recommendations from 2010. We also made 10 additional recommendations to help BSEE manage its permitting activities more effectively.
“Our review noted the importance of creating overarching policies and procedures that all employees can refer to in order to consistently carry out their responsibilities. BSEE created several teams to follow up on this recommendation but, to date, has no single database containing current policies and procedures, as well as no accounting for those policies and procedures that still need to be developed to ensure consistency across the Bureau.
“Also, although BSEE has created checklists and reviews to help employees complete all aspects of the oil and gas permit review, no procedures exist to implement the use of these checklists. We also found that BSEE’s Gulf of Mexico region has standardized use of eWell, an electronic system that speeds its review of regional permits to drill. We recommended implementation of this system, as well as additional software programs the region is developing, throughout BSEE. Ensuring that the training requirements for all well operations engineers are met was another recommended outcome of our review.”
OIG said that BSEE’s oversight of OCS oil and gas production is critical to the safe, efficient extraction of these important natural resources.
OIG further explained that, “BSEE has put in place permitting steps that help oil and gas operators meet their deadlines and implemented most of the recommendations we made in our 2010 OCS report to continue to improve the permitting process. What we found, however, is that BSEE has not completed many of the significant internal steps that would give its employees the tools to perform their jobs more consistently and effectively”.
Read the complete report here.