Since its establishment in 2011, BSEE has been the nation’s lead agency charged with improving safety and ensuring environmental protection related to the oil and natural gas industry on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf. Central to BSEE’s mission is the continuous improvement of its regulatory functions involving worker safety, emergency preparedness, environmental compliance, and conservation of resources. The Bureau’s efforts extend from the development of improved technologies to the inspection and regulation of offshore facilities to responses when safety or environmental incidents occur.
Comprising 1.76 billion acres of seafloor, the OCS, may still hold technically recoverable undiscovered fields containing as much as 90 billion barrels of oil and 327 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Extracting these resources requires the talents of a highly specialized workforce and equipment that is often state-of-the-art. Complicating these efforts are the remoteness of offshore platforms and uncertainties of both weather and subsea operations. Layered throughout these factors are the consequences of missteps that can result in oil spills, gas releases, injuries, and even fatalities.
To carry out its responsibilities, BSEE seeks to continuously improve its ability to properly regulate offshore oil and gas operations, enhance the safety of offshore energy exploration and production, ensure the protection of the environment and promote the implementation of the latest technological advancements.
BSEE’s hybrid approach to regulation employs both prescriptive-and performance-based methods to help ensure the safest operations possible. The regulations BSEE enforces typically incorporate widely-accepted industry standards and best practices. BSEE conducts on-site inspections to ensure compliance with regulations, lease terms and approved plans. On an annual basis, BSEE conducts approximately 20,000 component inspections for more than 2,000 facilities in Gulf of Mexico, Pacific and Alaskan waters.
With innovative regulatory approaches and appropriate collaboration with industry, BSEE is fostering an offshore safety culture that reduces the risk of incidents and spills, while enhancing its ability to prepare and respond to those that do occur with prompt and appropriate actions. The U.S. OCS provides the raw material for a substantial amount of our nation’s energy needs, but it will always be a difficult and sensitive environment in which to operate. BSEE understands that its jurisdictional role fulfills a critical national function: regulation of the offshore oil and gas exploration and production industry in order to reduce risks for workers, protect the environment, and ensure maximum ultimate recovery − and minimize waste − of America’s vast offshore energy resources.