7 Jan 2011

BP oil spill: when will regulators have the will & capacity to overcome ‘systemic’ causes?

Written by Jim Pierobon

Despite the root causes and that experts envision the oil spell recurring if significant correction action is not taken, the Macando oil well blowout  will likely fade from the Obama reform agenda because the oil industry is getting its way — again.

What does it take for genuine change in deepwater drilling? Credit: gizmag.com

This shouldn’t come as surprise given what money buys in Washington. Despite the irreparable harm done to the Gulf environment and the economic livelihoods of  thousands of workers unfortunately this only demonstrates that it’s business as usual where politics and oil intersect.  It does not matter enough that management at BP, Halliburton and Transocean ignored the heightened risk of the short cuts the report asserts each of them took.

From Chapter 4 of the report posted on the Oil Commission’s web site in advance of the scheduled release of the full report Jan. 11:

“The blowout was not the product of a series of aberrational
decisions made by rogue industry or government officials that could not have been anticipated or expected to occur again. Rather, the root causes are systemic and, absent significant reform in both industry practices and government policies, might well recur.

“The missteps were rooted in systemic failures by industry management (extending beyond BP to contractors that serve many in the industry), and also by failures of government to provide effective regulatory oversight of offshore drilling.”

Said Commission Co-Chair Bob Graham: “…it likely would not have happened if the responsible governmental regulators had the capacity and will to demand world class safety standards.”

That said, among the questions that loom:  Just what is the “significant progress” being made that the Obama Administration pointed to in re-opening drilling in the Gulf of Mexico?

For more questions, read industry veteran and author Bob Cavnar’s take.

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