The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) announced plans to establish an independent Ocean Energy Safety Institute to further enhance safe and responsible operations across the offshore oil and gas industry.
The Bureau is taking steps in providing a forum for dialogue, shared learning and cooperative research among academia, government, industry and other non-government organizations in offshore-related technologies and activities that ensure safe operations with limited impact to the environment, Director James Watson said in a press statement.
“The Institute will help federal regulators keep pace with new processes employed by the industry as they move into deeper water and deeper geologic plays that require technological innovation to bring projects into production,” Watson added. “I look forward to expanding the dialogue and engagement with additional stakeholders to identify and reduce risks to worker safety and the environment.”
The agency is seeking proposals from qualified organizations or institutions to enter into a cooperative agreement with BSEE for five years beginning October 2013. Funds of up to $5 million are available for the operation of the Ocean Energy Safety Institute (OESI) through the five-year cooperative agreement, the organization stated.
BSEE is seeking proposals that facilitate research and development, training of federal workers on identification and verification of Best Available and Safest Technology (BAST) and implementation of operational improvements in the areas of offshore drilling, safety and environmental protection, blowout containment and oil spill response, the organization added.
“As offshore energy development becomes more complex, every effort should be made to make sure it is done ever more safely,” said Dr. Thomas O. Hunter, chair of the OESC and former Sandia National Laboratory Director, in the released statement. “The Institute provides a unique opportunity for all engaged parties to work together to identify and deploy technology that will make a real and enduring difference. The time is right and the opportunity is clear.”
The newly formed organization, OESI, will operate independently from BSEE and provide input on yearly objectives, conduct certain work to further attain the listed objectives and be a focal point for collaboration on issues within the OESI mandate.
Additionally, the institute will provide a forum for the education and training of government employees to ensure that the federal workforce can keep pace and maintain the same level of technological expertise as the oil and gas industry it regulates, BSEE added.