Friday, July 2, 2010
SEC Takes Over Gulf of Mexico
"In the five years before the Deepwater Horizon exploded, federal investigators documented nearly 200 safety and environmental violations in accidents on platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, describing a stunning array of hazards that resulted in few penalites. ... And yet, in their investigations of nearly 400 offshore incidents, Mineral Management Service officials failed to travel to one-third of the accident scenes, collected only 16 fines and did not investigate every blowout as their own rules require. BP, the region's leading offshore oil producer, reported more accidents and blowouts than any other oil company operating in Gulf waters, followed by Chevron, the region's third largest offshore oil producer. ... Each major oil company paid only a single fine related to violations linked to those incidents. Both Chevron and BP spokesmen defended their companies' safety records and said their employee injury rates are low. ... It was rare for any oil company to pay penalties for problems found in accidents investigated by the MMS, records show. The agency can charge $35,000 per day per violation. But many proposed violations get reduced or dropped during behind-the-scenes reviews. Records how that most final payments were small and took a year or more to collect. ... MMS officials did not respond to repeated requests for information and comment for this story", Lise Olsen and Eric Nadler at the Houston Chronicle, 7 June 2010, link:
The MMS sounds as effective at regulating offshore oil drilling as the SEC is at the financial markets.