Proposed Budget Would Boost BSEE's Training

Director James A. Watson said the $222.2 million requested for the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement in FY2103 will establish it as "a world-class offshore safety regulator."

With a settlement still possible before the federal court trial over the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill begins Feb. 27 in New Orleans, the federal agency created in their wake to oversee offshore operations' safety got a boost from President Obama's FY2013 budget request. It asks for $222.2 million to fund the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which represents a 13 percent increase from the current year.

BSEE's core functions include offshore regulatory programs; oil spill response planning; safety inspections, enforcement, and investigations; environmental enforcement and compliance; well and production permitting; and production and development.

Included in the requested amount is $3.7 million for the newly created National Offshore Training and Learning Center where the bureau's safety inspectors, environmental enforcement officers, and engineers will be trained, and $4.2 million for environmental enforcement, a new function that addresses recommendations resulting from investigations of the explosion. BSEE said it will use the latter amount to hire, train, equip, and support personnel to conduct environmental inspections, Safety and Environmental Management System (SEMS) audits, and other activities.

In a Feb. 13 statement, BSEE Director James A. Watson said the budget request "provides the necessary resources for BSEE to firmly establish itself as a world-class offshore safety regulator. We are stepping up our efforts to efficiently process drilling permits, provide better training for our inspectors and engineers, and enforce current requirements while continuing to search for better ways to protect the offshore environment."

BSEE expects to collect $125.9 million to offset its appropriation. This amount includes $65.0 million in inspection fees, $52.5 million in rental receipts, and $8.4 million in cost recovery fees charged to the oil & gas exploration and production industry. The corresponding collection amount for FY2012 is $4.8 million less.

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