"Feds Let BP Avoid Filing Blowout Plan for Gulf Rig"

"NEW ORLEANS -- Petrochemical giant BP didn't file a plan to specifically handle a major oil spill from an uncontrolled blowout at its Deepwater Horizon project because the federal agency that regulates offshore rigs changed its rules two years ago to exempt certain projects in the central Gulf region, according to an Associated Press review of official records.

The Minerals Management Service, an arm of the Interior Department known for its cozy relationship with major oil companies, says it issued the rule relief because some of the industrywide mandates weren't practical for all of the exploratory and production projects operating in the Gulf region.

The blowout rule, the fact that it was lifted in April 2008 for rigs that didn't fit at least one of five conditions, and confusion about whether the BP Deepwater Horizon project was covered by the regulation, caught the attention of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

Following a tour of a boom operation in Gulf Shores, Ala., Salazar said Wednesday that he understood BP was required to file plans for coping with a blowout at the well that failed."

Michael Kunzelman and Richard T. Pienciak report for the Associated Press May 6, 2010.

See Also:

"There Will Be Blood" (Mother Jones)

"UK Regulator Warned Transocean on Blow-Out Valves" (ENS)

Gulf Oil Rig Crew Describe Fateful Night (Washington Post)

"BP's U.S. Gulf Project Exempted From Enviro Analysis" (Reuters)

Friday, May 7, 2010