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Oil Spill Commission Releases Report on Deepwater Horizon Accident, P.3

Over the course of our last two posts, we have discussed the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster that rocked the Gulf of Mexico for months last spring. A report released last week by America's national Oil Spill Commission places blame on a few private and public key contributors to the industrial accident. Details of the report's recommendations for implementation of a "safety case" model were partially discussed in our last post. That discussion concludes here.

The commission noted in their report that the American Petroleum Institute (API) has a consistent track record of criticizing and resisting such safety initiatives recommended in their latest report. It's safe to assume this is why the commission is recommending a specific governmental "Safety Institute" be established to enforce safety standards without regard for industry advocacy.

The API has already taken a critical stance in dismissing the commission's report for using one incident to cast doubt on the effectiveness of safety measures being employed by the entire oil drilling industry. The intent of the report though is clear in that it doesn't aim to bog down the industry with myriad regulations, thereby bringing oil production to a halt. Instead, the report makes note to indicate how safely deepwater drilling efforts can potentially be executed. The commission cautions the industry that the safety of future expansion efforts into uncharted waters could benefit greatly from the safety case regulatory model.

The industry will likely be unwilling to take on additional costs associated with increased safety efforts, disaster mitigation planning and proper expansion research. The commission's report makes note of the billions of dollars British Petroleum may end up paying if they are found grossly negligent for the Deepwater Horizon disaster as an example of how more costly improper planning can be to a company than investing greatly in safety measures and scalability research on the front end.

Only time will tell if the commission's recommendations are heeded.

Source: The Economist "Cleaning up a mess" 1/11/11

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