Obama’s oil inquiry conclusions announced today confirm concerns raised over the dangers of extraction in the North Sea. A recently released investigation by oil-industry watchdog PLATFORM warns that a repeat of the Deepwater Horizon disaster is possible in British waters, unless current policies are changed.
The White House’s oil commission investigation into the Deepwater Horizon spill will warn that such a disaster would likely recur because of industry complacency, without a major shift in corporate practice.
PLATFORM’s report “Off the Deep End – Foreign policy and the dash for offshore oil and gas,” corroborates these concerns, citing documents sourced through FoIA that reveal the British government’s failure to ensure adequate health and safety, spill protection and environmental oversight of existing operations. The investigation warns that the oil industry has demanded a rapid return to drilling-as-usual, with plans to drill deeper in hazardous, ecologically-sensitive regions off the British coast. Meanwhile, abandoned wells and ageing infrastructure are making the North Sea “one of the most contaminated maritime areas of the world.”
James Marriott of PLATFORM and one of the report contributors, said, “We now know just how fatally flawed BP’s standard risk assessment was for Macondo, and thereby for all its other major capital projects. We need to be assured that future drilling by any oil company does not pose serious threats to workers’ lives, communities’ livelihoods and the environment.”
Obama’s National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling concludes that the root causes of the disaster were “systemic”, that most of the mistakes could be traced back to “a failure of management” and that “None of BP’s decisions … appear to have been subject to a comprehensive and systematic risk-analysis, peer review, or management change of process.”
Meanwhile, “Off the Deep End” exposes significant capacity shortfalls in British government inspection agencies and highlights key areas where failing regulatory oversight could allow future disasters in Scottish and English waters.
Together, the two inquiries reveal that continued deepwater drilling in the North Sea is a recipe for disaster. One of the main oil companies drilling off Shetland has a systemic inability to contain serious risks while government bodies are unable to guarantee sufficient oversight and safety standards.
Kevin Smith of PLATFORM said “While reform of the global oil industry is necessary after Deepwater Horizon, it is not inevitable. Lobbying by the oil companies means that for now, Britain’s ‘light touch regulation’ continues as before.”
“Off the Deep End: Foreign Policy and the dash for offshore oil & gas” can be downloaded from the PLATFORM website at: http://www.carbonweb.org/showitem.asp?article=386&parent=39