[Editor's note: Michael Bromwich, the first director of the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy, Management and Regulation, is providing the question this week. Bromwich was the Obama administration's point person in response to the BP oil spill and now runs his own consulting firm, The Bromwich Group.]
It has been two years since the Deepwater Horizon tragedy that killed 11 people, injured many others, and led to a massive oil spill. These events stunned the nation, sent shock waves through the offshore oil and gas industry, and reverberated around the world.
The oil and gas industry and the U.S. government were forced to admit that the safeguards designed to prevent a deepwater blowout were not effective; that no one had prepared adequately for containing a subsea accident; and that tools for responding to a major oil spill had advanced little in the 20 years since the Exxon Valdez disaster. The risks associated with deepwater drilling had been badly underestimated; the regulatory regime badly needed to be bolstered; capabilities to contain a subsea accident needed to be developed; and spill response assets needed to be enhanced.
Tragedy and disaster frequently lead to reexamining accepted truths. Deepwater Horizon prompted responses from both the offshore industry and the U.S. government. Much has been accomplished¬--both by the private sector and the government¬--but the work is not done. Industry and the U.S. government must continue to take steps that move offshore safety forward and drive down the risks of offshore drilling.
Although people differ on the extent of progress made so far, everyone agrees that much remains to be done. My question for the week is: What should the private sector be doing--and what is currently being done--to reduce the risks of offshore drilling?