November 2, 2010
Salazar proposes Ocean Energy Safety Institute
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar wants to see an "Ocean Energy Safety Institute." It would facilitate research and development, training, and implementation in the areas of offshore drilling safety, blowout containment and oil spill response.
"The Deepwater Horizon tragedy highlighted the importance of raising the bar on offshore drilling safety, practices and technology," Secretary Salazar said. "The institute would serve to coordinate and institutionalize the lessons and strategies learned from the oil spill so that the United States can stay at the forefront of drilling safety, containment and spill response."
The institute would be a collaborative initiative involving government - in particular, the Department of Energy and the United States Coast Guard - industry, academia and scientific experts.
"Because of the Department's regulatory responsibilities in this area," says a press statement, "the Institute would be housed at Interior, but would seek to coordinate and prioritize research dollars from a variety of governmental and non-governmental sources to create a center of excellence that would ensure that the United States remains on the cutting-edge of offshore energy safety."
The institute would create a "transparent organization that builds on the strategic collaboration of its members to address technological needs and inherent risks associated with offshore drilling, and deepwater drilling in particular."
Its objectives would include:
Advancing safe and environmentally responsible offshore drilling through collaborative research and development in the areas of drilling safety, containment and spill response;
Developing advanced drilling technology testing and implementation protocols;
Understanding full-system risk and reliability for the offshore environment;
Developing an enduring R&D capability and an expertise base useful both for preventing and responding to accidents;
Developing training and emergency response exercises;
Increasing opportunities for communication and coordination among industry, government, academia and the scientific community;
Developing a larger cadre of technical experts who can oversee or otherwise participate in deepwater drilling-related activities;
Establishing cost-effective advances in technology for industry;
Creating a framework for regulatory predictability in a global market.
The Department of the Interior says that Secretary Salazar has reached out to potential partners in government, industry, and elsewhere to discuss the proposal and has asked that they share ideas regarding the Institute's formation and future operations by November 30, 2010.