Occupational Health & Safety

BSEE Issues Second Set of Violations to BP

The initial violations assessed in connection with the Macondo well were issued Oct. 12. After a 60-day appeal period for the second set, BSEE will consider imposing civil penalties.

The federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement on Dec. 7 issued a second set of regulatory violations arising from the operation of the Macondo well, which is the Gulf of Mexico well that was being drilled by the Deepwater Horizon when an explosion in April 2010 killed 11 workers. The blast caused the drilling rig to sink and triggered a major oil spill.

BSEE, the offshore oversight and enforcement agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior, said it sent five Incidents of Non-Compliance by faxed letter to BP. One INC lists a violation of 30 CFR 250.427, saying BP failed to conduct an accurate pressure integrity test at the 13 5/8-inch liner shoe. The other four were violations of 30 CFR 250.427(b) for failing to suspend drilling operations at the Macondo well when the safe drilling margin identified in the approved application for permit to drill was not maintained.

"Further review of the evidence demonstrated additional regulatory violations by BP in its drilling and abandonment operations at the Macondo well. Our federal regulations exist to ensure safe and environmentally responsible activities. We will continue to be vigilant in enforcing those regulations," said BSEE Director James Watson, who was sworn in only one week earlier, on Dec. 1.

After a 60-day appeal period for the second set, BSEE will consider imposing civil penalties.

The initial set of INCs was issued Oct. 12, and BSEE said it advised BP at that time that the violations might be supplemented as more evidence was reviewed.

One of BP's actions in response to the spill was to create a Global Wells Organisation, headed by a vice president, to standardize drilling operations across the company. An article in BP's magazine explains how the GWO functions.

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