Angelle: Post Deepwater Horizon offshore rules under review
A review of offshore oil and gas drilling regulations imposed during the Obama administration is to be completed by the end of year, according to Scott Angelle, who was named director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement in the Department of the Interior in May.
The rules developed following the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion, were implemented in April 2016.
Prior to his director’s job, Angelle was District 2 Public Service Commissioner. The Breaux Bridge native also served as secretary of the state Department of Natural Resources and as lieutenant governor.
Angelle’s new job is to make sure oil and gas operations on the Outer Continental Shelf are conducted safely and in an environmentally-responsible manner to secure reliable and efficient energy production.
Angelle is to visit locations on the Gulf Coast this week that include New Orleans, Houma, Morgan City, Lafayette and Houston.
Angelle contrasted the regulatory reaction to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America that killed thousands to the aftermath of the BP oil rig failure that killed 11.
Air travel was shut down for four days after the terrorist attacks. The offshore rigs were shut down for six months after the spill.
“Looking at that example with one stroke of a pen attempting to shut down offshore drilling for six months seemed to be, from my perspective, an over reaction to the issue,” Angelle said in telephone interview Friday.
Inspections and reporting could have been increased after the Deepwater Horizon incident, he said.
“The easiest thing to is to just say we are closing the door and we are not going to let anything happen,” he said of the offshore shutdown.
The shutdown had a huge economic impact, he said.
“We certainly need to have appropriate rules and regulations. Just because we call it a well control rule doesn’t mean that it is the only way to control wells. It is just like calling something the Affordable Care Act doesn’t make it affordable health care,” he said.
“In my mind the well control rule aimed high and missed wide and needs to be reviewed,” he said.
Economics were left out of the equation in developing the rules that are now being reviewed, Angelle said, and he is optimistic that if change is needed there won’t be any foot-dragging.
“I don’t think this administration has a high level of appreciation for bureaucracy,” he said. “We’ve already begun to start trying to map out a way to review it in a transparent way and at the same time not let it slip away.”
Angelle stresses the Gulf of Mexico is a world-class oil and gas field, but also in competition for drilling dollars across the globe.
“We need to think as managers of the Gulf that the government does not have the ability to drill wells and to bring resources to market. It takes companies who are willing to make those investments.”
The regulatory environment has not been predictable in the past, he said.
“We are going to certainly reach out introduce reliability and reasonableness to the marketplace. I think you will see the investment return to the Gulf...,” he said.
“This administration recognizes that the Outer Continental Shelf areas of America are a big deal and currently about 97 percent of the production ... comes from the Gulf of Mexico,” he said.
“I think that bodes well for our economy,” he said.
Angelle said the Trump administration aims to open up offshore drilling in the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic areas.
“We have a duty to demonstrate that we can do this in a safe way that is environmentally sustainable and unlock those resources,” he said.
President Trump is making it clear he wants the U.S. to be the dominant force in world energy production, he said.
Angelle also made the point that in 2016, revenue from deep water oil and gas production generated $2.8 billion to the U.S. Treasury.