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Monday, July 22, 2024 | Back issues
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National Oil Spill Commission Report Cites|’Systematic Failures’ of ‘Entire Industry’

NEW ORLEANS (CN) - The National Oil Spill Commission on Tuesday released its final report on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and found that the spill could have been prevented. The 398-page report concludes that "the immediate causes of the Macondo well blowout can be traced to a series of identifiable mistakes made by BP, Halliburton, and Transocean that reveal such systematic failures in risk management that they place in doubt the safety culture of the entire industry."

It called for the oil industry to develop and enforce its own world-class safety standards, to adopt a more active approach to reducing risks, such as safety measures used in the North Sea, and to pay for tougher federal regulation through permit and licensing fees.

"Because regulatory oversight alone will not be sufficient to ensure adequate safety, the oil and gas industry will need to take its own, unilateral steps to increase dramatically safety through the industry, including self-policing mechanisms that supplement governmental enforcement," the report states.

The commission's recommendations were issued to President Barack Obama. Obama created the commission to identify the causes of the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon that killed 11 workers and led to the worst oil spill in history.

The commission said that government and industry must work together in deepwater exploration.

"Deepwater energy exploration and production, particularly at the frontiers of experience, involve risks for which neither industry nor government has been adequately prepared, but for which they can and must be prepared in the future," the report states.

"The technology, laws and regulations, and practices for containing, responding to, and cleaning up oil spills lag behind the real risks associated with deepwater drilling into large, high-pressure reservoirs of oil and gas located far offshore and thousands of feet below the ocean's surface. Government must close the existing gap and industry must support rather than resist that effort. ...

"The disaster in the Gulf undermined public faith in the energy industry, government regulators, and even our own capability as a nation to respond to crises. It is our hope that a thorough and rigorous accounting, along with focused suggestions for reform, can begin the process of restoring confidence. There is much at stake, not only for the people directly affected in the Gulf region, but for the American people at large. The tremendous resources that exist within our outer continental shelf is accordingly plenary, based on its power as both the owner of the resources and its regulatory capacity as sovereign to protect public health, safety and welfare. To be allowed to drill on the outer continental shelf is a privilege to be earned, not a private right to be exercised," the commission said.

The commission called for strict reform, from government and the oil industry, and said its findings were reached in a "constructive spirit: we aim to promote changes that will make American offshore energy exploration and production far safer, today and in the future."

Here is a link to the full report.

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