We’ve only just begun…

Posted on 23 March 2011

From the President

Dr Lee Hunt, IADC President

Dr Lee Hunt, IADC President

As we approach the first anniversary of the Macondo tragedy, the drilling industry remains far from back to normal. The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) issued the first deepwater drilling permit in late February – a positive step, to be sure. Yet much uncertainty remains, and numerous investigations into Macondo are still ongoing.The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill issued its findings in January, and commission chief counsel Fred Bartlit followed a month later with his own report. Nobody can predict what concrete actions or regulations these reports will ultimately bring about.

And there is much more to come.

The National Academy of Engineering, conducting an investigation at the request of the Interior Department, issued an interim report last October and is expected to issue its final report in June.

The joint investigation team of the US Coast Guard and the BOEM Marine Board of Inquiry says it anticipates releasing a report in July focusing on forensic analysis of the subsea BOP.

An inquiry by the Chemical Safety Board, at the behest of the House Committee on Energy & Commerce, is still under way.

Under the Department of Justice, both a criminal investigation and a civil suit are ongoing.

There are also numerous congressional inquiries in progress, with proposed bills that could bring additional drilling restrictions or affect oil companies’ liability limits.

On the international arena, the governments and regulators of many countries are on the alert. So far, most of them have not taken drastic actions while waiting for official reports to come out of the US. That is about to change. With 20 April around the corner again, many of these countries are beginning to anticipate taking action.

We expect that in Europe, especially, the European Union, the Petroleum Safety Authority of Norway and the International Regulators Forum will begin parsing the various US reports and making recommendations of their own.

This is on top of continuing improvement efforts already under way within industry, whether it’s the Joint Industry Task Force, OGP’s Global Industry Response Group (GIRG), or Oil & Gas UK’s Oil Spill Prevention and Response Advisory Group (OSPRAG).

Macondo was an event that will have monumental effects on this industry for years to come, irrespective of national borders. Wherever possible, IADC will work to ensure the drilling industry has a prominent seat at the table to influence the coming changes. We’ve only just begun.

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