Final Report: Oil spill panel calls for major offshore drilling reforms

By Phaedra Friend Troy

The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling published its final report Tuesday calling for a major overhaul of offshore drilling practices in the Outer Continental Shelf.

The commission drew from months of interviews and research about the drilling accident that occurred aboard the Deepwater Horizon semisub that claimed the lives of 11 personnel and ultimately caused the worst oil spill in the history of the United States.

“The BP Deepwater Horizon disaster undermined public faith in the oil and gas industry, in government regulators, and even in America’s ability to respond to crises,” the report read.

The panel called for a changed energy policy that focuses both on industry practices and governmental oversight. Nonetheless, the report stressed that offshore drilling “does not have to be abandoned. It can be done safely.”

The final oil spill commission report stated that the US government needs to increase drilling restrictions, as well as create a new independent agency focused on drilling safety. The committee also called on the oil and gas industry form a self-regulating group to help implement safety and drilling standards.

Furthermore, the commission asked Congress to increase liability limits on offshore drilling operations.

Ultimately, the report recognized that offshore oil and gas is an important part of domestic energy security, but pushes for a cleaner mix of energy in the future.

“The extent to which offshore drilling contributes to augmenting that domestic supply depends importantly on rebuilding public faith in existing offshore energy exploration and production,” the report stated. “That rebuilding begins with a clear, independent explanation of what happened at the Macondo well in April 2010, and of the reforms required in the wake of that terrible tragedy.

In response to the report, the American Petroleum Institute stressed that the industry has already made “significant” strides in improving offshore drilling safety before and after the oil spill.

“We hope that the administration recognizes the work already done and the need to rapidly restore vibrancy to the nation’s offshore oil and natural gas production program,” said API Upstream Director Erik Milito. “Both the nation’s energy security and our recovering economy demand it.”

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