Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Industry keeping tabs on funding request for US BOEMRE

President Barack Obama requested $358.4 million to fund the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE) in fiscal 2012. Oil companies operating in deepwater and offshore drilling contractors will be watching closely to see how Congress responds.

Following the April 2010 blowout of the Macondo well and the resulting oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, government officials have acknowledged BOEMRE, formerly the Minerals Management Service, historically was underfunded. Lack of funding reportedly has hindered the agency's regulatory oversight of oil and gas activities.

Industry spokesmen have told OGJ that BOEMRE needs technically savvy inspectors and engineers who can keep up with deepwater drilling advances. BOEMRE also needs enough people to help streamline the approval process for deepwater drilling permits.

The requested BOEMRE budget marks a 50% increase above the 2010 funding level after adjusting for the reorganization of the MMS. Additional funding would be used to hire more inspectors, engineers, scientists, and others to oversee industry operations and to review offshore safety systems.

Industry agrees that BOEMRE needs more people. One issue that cannot be resolved by any budget request is the question of how to recruit and train additional BOEMRE inspectors so that they can be brought up to speed on the complex drilling equipment that they will be inspecting.

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