"Panel Urges Tougher Offshore Regulation"

"Regulators who are supposed to police offshore oil and gas drilling are spread too thinly, poorly trained and hampered by outdated technology, according to a study by an Interior Department review board appointed after the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Outer Continental Shelf Safety Oversight Board noted in a report on Wednesday that oil and gas leasing off the nation’s coastlines had nearly tripled since 1982, while the size of the regulatory staff had declined by a third. Off the West Coast, there are five inspectors for 23 offshore production platforms. In the Gulf of Mexico, there are 55 inspectors for 3,000 facilities, the report states.

The study also found that overworked inspectors came under constant pressure from operators not to cite them for violations of rules, complaining that they could lead to fines or costly work stoppages. Inspectors said that they were unable to perform unannounced inspections because of the difficulty of reaching offshore platforms and because of Coast Guard security rules."

John M. Broder reports for the New York Times' Green blog September 8, 2010.

Text of Report

Source: Green (NYT), 09/09/2010