OUTLOOK ’12: US Chem Safety Board may finish BP oil spill probe

02 January 2012 23:00  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--For 2012, the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) plans to complete an investigation into the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf Coast, update its strategic plan and open an office in Houston.

Rafael Moure-Eraso, the chairman of the CSB, said the investigation into the Deepwater Horizon disaster has run into some obstacles. “The [US Department of Justice] has been working with us to enforce the subpoenas," he said.

The rig exploded in April 2010, killing 11 people and causing a massive oil spill. BP operated the Deepwater Horizon, and Transocean owned it.

Regardless, the CSB has made some progress in identifying some of the key issues that will end up in the final report.

Moure-Eraso said they would like to develop an automated instrumentation system to replace the manual safety systems that are generally used in the offshore drilling industry.

The CSB has also gathered information from other countries that have offshore-drilling regulations, he added.

However, Moure-Eraso said it is still unclear as to when the group would complete its final report.

Once it is finished, the CSB hopes to glean several long-term recommendations from it to help prevent similar accidents from happening.

In fact, one of the CSB’s goals for 2012 is to develop a strategic plan.

Moure-Eraso said the CSB’s charter requires the organisation to develop a strategic plan every five years.

“We hope to publish this in fiscal year 2012,” he said. “We are basically refining the issues of our mission.”

He said they want to advance the long-term recommendations for prevention by learning from investigations and developing prevention strategies.

Additionally, the CSB hopes to be able to respond to more incidents in 2012 a task that should be more feasible with a bigger budget.

The CSB has asked for a budget increase in 2012, from $10.7m (€8.2m) last year to about $11.1m in the coming year.

“We are quite pleased with what we’ve heard from Congress,” he said. “We feel we will be able to expand our regional offices and expand our capabilities with this budget.”

The CSB could open an office in Houston in the coming months, but nothing has been finalised.

“We have hired a new investigator who has expressed the desire to work out of Houston,” he said. “We are waiting to see what the budget realities are going to be. Hopefully, we will soon be able to take more steps to make that a reality.”

($1 = €0.77)

By: Bobbie Clark
+1 713 525 2653

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