Monday, May 17, 2010

Federal Oil Rig Inspections - Is There Cause to Trust the Government To Do Anything Well?

Over the past five years, the number of inspections of the oil rig, by the government, has fallen significantly. Last year it was awarded for its safety record. Billions of dollars in royalties are being paid to the government to fund these inspections and to get it right. Obviously, when inspectors have to rely on records kept by the companies themselves, results can sometimes be tainted. Another government agency under performing. What a shock! Useless agency, disastrous results.

The federal agency responsible for ensuring that the Deepwater Horizon was operating safely before it exploded last month fell well short of its own policy that the rig be inspected at least once per month, an Associated Press investigation shows.

In fact, the agency's inspection frequency on the Deepwater Horizon fell dramatically over the past five years, according to federal Minerals Management Service records. The rig blew up April 20, killing 11 people before sinking and triggering a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Since January 2005, inspectors issued just one minor infraction for the rig. That strong track record led the agency last year to herald the Deepwater Horizon as an industry model for safety.

The inspection gaps are the latest in a series of questions raised about the agency's oversight of the oil drilling industry. Members of Congress and President Barack Obama have criticized what they call the cozy relationship between regulators and oil companies and vowed to reform MMS, which both regulates the industry and collects billions in royalties from it.

Whatever the correct citation total — five or six — the Deepwater Horizon's record was exemplary, according to MMS officials, who said the rig was never on inspectors' informal "watch list" for problem rigs. In fact, last year MMS awarded the rig an award for its safety history.
AP IMPACT: Fed'l inspections on rig not as claimed

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