US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar proposed on 2 November establishing an Ocean Energy Safety Institute to facilitate research and development, training, and implementation in the areas of offshore drilling safety, blowout containment and oil spill response.
The institute would be a collaborative initiative involving government – in particular the Department of Energy and the United States Coast Guard – industry, academia and scientific experts. It would be housed at the Department of Interior (DOI) because of its regulatory responsibilities in this area. However, it would seek to coordinate and prioritize research dollars from a variety of governmental and non-governmental sources.
The institute would create a transparent organization that builds on the strategic collaboration of its members to address technological needs and inherent risks associated with offshore drilling, and deepwater drilling in particular.
Specifically, the objectives of the Ocean Energy Safety Institute would include:
• Advancing safe and environmentally responsible offshore drilling through collaborative research and development in the areas of drilling safety, containment and spill response;
• Developing advanced drilling technology testing and implementation protocols;
• Understanding full-system risk and reliability for the offshore environment;
• Developing an enduring R&D capability and an expertise base useful both for preventing and responding to accidents;
• Developing training and emergency response exercises;
• Increasing opportunities for communication and coordination among industry, government, academia and the scientific community;
• Developing a larger cadre of technical experts who can oversee or otherwise participate in deepwater drilling-related activities;
• Establishing cost-effective advances in technology for industry;
• Creating a framework for regulatory predictability in a global market.
Secretary Salazar has reached out to potential partners in government, industry, and elsewhere to discuss the proposal and has asked that they share ideas regarding the institute’s formation and future operations by 30 November 2010.