API President and CEO Jack Gerard yesterday sent a letter to Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar, providing the industry's thoughts and concerns about the proposed Ocean Energy Safety Institute (OESI). This new entity, as proposed by the government, would provide a forum for a collaborative government-industry research initiative aimed at improving the safety of U.S. offshore energy development.
In his letter, Jack reiterated the oil and natural gas industry's commitment to improving safety and told the Secretary that API has formed a task force to provide the government with feedback on the OESI proposal. First and foremost, Jack wrote in support of "a collaborative approach" to research and development (R&D) in offshore deepwater drilling safety, containment and oil spill response through technology advances.
Among the industry's comments were the following:
- Any new research initiative should evaluate existing R&D being developed globally and identify technology gaps.
- R&D collaboration should leverage existing people, expertise, equipment and laboratory capabilities.
- The collaborative R&D initiative should not be housed within the Department of the Interior "as a traditional DOI department," but rather should exist "on a standalone basis."
"With a growing need to access reserves in increasingly challenging geology and deeper waters, the need for development of new and enhanced technologies, and particularly those that focus on prevention, is critical," Jack wrote. "Tremendous facilities and resources currently exist in the national labs, academia, private research institutions, the U.S. military--including the Office of Naval Research--and industry...and offer promise of meeting these challenges."
Jack's letter also highlighted existing training models for the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) personnel entrusted with performing inspections and conducting permit reviews and approvals. "The DOI should manage their operational training effort, delivery and funding through existing resources and revenues streams," Jack added.