US President Obama announced today that he has requested $222.1 million for the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) for fiscal year 2014, which would provide critically needed resources to strengthen the agency’s offshore regulatory programs. BSEE believes the proposed budget, which represents a $24.8 million increase over the 2012 enacted level, would enable itself to carry out its responsibilities for oil spill response planning and safety inspections; investigations, environmental enforcement and compliance; as well as production permitting and development.
“The president’s 2014 request will enable BSEE to keep pace with a dynamic industry as operators continue to pursue new technologies that enable them to develop our nation’s energy resources in deeper water and frontier areas,” BSEE director Jim Watson said. “The president’s request provides the necessary resources for BSEE to institutionalize the regulatory reforms put into place following the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill and continue to build upon the organizational requirements necessary to ensure offshore oil and gas activities are conducted safely and in an environmentally responsible manner.”
The request will be offset by $124 million from offsetting collections, including $65 million from inspection fees, $50.6 million from rental receipts and $8.4 million through cost recovery fees.
BSEE recently finalized the SEMS II rule, and operators will be required to implement the strengthened requirements in 2014.
Promoting the use of information, including real-time monitoring (RTM), to enhance safety and environmental protection is a key priority for BSEE in 2014. Many companies already use RTM technology and dedicated offsite facilities to monitor their offshore oil and gas operations. The bureau is actively reviewing the use of various forms of RTM in its regulatory processes as BSEE seeks to better fulfill its mission. Additionally, the Bureau is developing a strategic, risk-based approach to compliance and enforcement.
The budget request also provides the necessary resources to BSEE’s Alaska region as companies begin to develop oil and gas resources in this frontier area. The request builds independent and dependable inspection capabilities to support expanded drilling activities in addition to building the critical engineering capacity for permitting operations.
The bureau said it will continue focusing its efforts on recruiting and training a diverse and talented workforce. In 2014, the Bureau will expand recruitment and retention programs and develop cutting edge training curricula.