Oil safety weak two years after BP spill: studies

April 17, 2012
A buoy that washed ashore is seen stained with oil residue from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 in Orange Beach, Alabama. Offshore drilling safety and oversight is still lacking two years after the massive BP oil spill sullied the US Gulf Coast, two reports released Tuesday have found.

Offshore drilling safety and oversight is still lacking two years after the massive BP oil spill sullied the US Gulf Coast, two reports released Tuesday have found.

A presidential commission tasked with investigating the spill said it was "encouraged by the progress being made" by the and regulators.

But it cautioned that "much more need to be done" to improve drilling safety and environmental protection, particularly in "frontier" areas like the Arctic.

It also chastised Congress for failing to pass legislation needed to ensure regulators have the resources to properly monitor offshore drilling, lift the $75 million liability cap for oil firms, and ensure there are sufficient resources for spill response.

"In just the past 10 months, at least three and gas rigs around the world have experienced significant leaks, demonstrating again and again how risky this activity is and emphasizing the need for the types of controls and protections the Commission called for," the report cautioned.

"The risks will only increase as drilling moves into with harsher, less familiar ."

The Oceana issued a more scathing report, in which it declared that efforts taken to improve safety and oversight were "woefully inadequate."

"Politics continues to triumph over common sense. It's outrageous that so little progress has been made to make safer," said Jacqueline Savitz, senior campaign director at Oceana.

"It appears that the government has done little more than require actions that were already being done voluntarily, even on the ill-fated rig -- it's as if they are letting the industry regulate itself."

While new rules have been implemented, regulators have not yet addressed important problems such as an insufficient number of inspectors, low fines for breaking the rules, and fundamental deficiencies in the design of blowout preventers, Oceana concluded.

Oil spill response plans also remain inadequate and little has been done to improve cleanup and containment technology, it added.

"Without stronger regulations, and better inspection and enforcement, oil companies will continue to put profits over safety and there will be more problems," Savitz said.

"It's not a matter of whether there will be another oil spill, but when."

The April 20, 2010 explosion on the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon drilling rig killed 11 workers, blackened beaches in five US states and devastated the Gulf Coast's tourism and fishing industries.

It took 87 days to cap BP's runaway well 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) below the surface which spewed some 4.9 million barrels (206 million gallons) of into the Gulf of Mexico.

Explore further: BP to resume deepwater drilling in Gulf of Mexico: report

Related Stories

US report spreads blame for BP oil spill

September 14, 2011

A key US government report spreads the blame for the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico Wednesday, citing a bad cement job and poor management decisions by BP and its subcontractors.

US eyes first BP criminal charges over Gulf spill: WSJ

December 29, 2011

US prosecutors are readying criminal charges against British oil giant BP employees over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident that led to the catastrophic Gulf oil spill, The Wall Street Journal reported online.

BP says US oil spill trial could 'last until 2014'

February 26, 2012

British energy giant BP is prepared for a multi-billion-dollar US legal case into the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill to last until 2014, its chief executive told the Sunday Telegraph.

Recommended for you

Global index proposed to avoid delays on climate policies

August 4, 2015

Professor David Frame, Director of Victoria's Climate Change Research Institute (CCRI), has co-authored a paper published today in the high profile international scientific journal Nature Climate Change. The paper argues ...

Study calculates the speed of ice formation

August 3, 2015

Researchers at Princeton University have for the first time directly calculated the rate at which water crystallizes into ice in a realistic computer model of water molecules. The simulations, which were carried out on supercomputers, ...

Researchers investigate increased ocean acidification

August 3, 2015

The primary cause of global ocean acidification is the oceanic absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere. Although this absorption helps to mitigate some of the effects of anthropogenic climate change, it has resulted in a reduction ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.