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Salazar Proposes Ocean Energy Safety Institute

Institute would advance lessons learned in wake of oil spill; coordinate research and development activities

WASHINGTON, DC - In response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today proposed the concept of establishing an "Ocean Energy Safety Institute" designed to facilitate research and development, training, and implementation in the areas of offshore drilling safety, blowout containment and oil spill response.

"The Deepwater Horizon tragedy highlighted the importance of raising the bar on offshore drilling safety, practices and technology," Secretary Salazar said. "The Institute would serve to coordinate and institutionalize the lessons and strategies learned from the oil spill so that the United States can stay at the forefront of drilling safety, containment and spill response."

The Institute would be a collaborative initiative involving government - in particular, the Department of Energy and the United States Coast Guard - industry, academia and scientific experts. Because of the Department's regulatory responsibilities in this area, the Institute would be housed at Interior, but would seek to coordinate and prioritize research dollars from a variety of governmental and non-governmental sources to create a center of excellence that would ensure that the United States remains on the cutting-edge of offshore energy safety. 

The Institute would create a transparent organization that builds on the strategic collaboration of its members to address technological needs and inherent risks associated with offshore drilling, and deepwater drilling in particular.

Specifically, the objectives of the Ocean Energy Safety Institute would include:


  • Advancing safe and environmentally responsible offshore drilling through collaborative research and development in the areas of drilling safety, containment and spill response;
  • Developing advanced drilling technology testing and implementation protocols;
  • Understanding full-system risk and reliability for the offshore environment;
  • Developing an enduring R&D capability and an expertise base useful both for preventing and responding to accidents;
  • Developing training and emergency response exercises;
  • Increasing opportunities for communication and coordination among industry, government, academia and the scientific community;
  • Developing a larger cadre of technical experts who can oversee or otherwise participate in deepwater drilling-related activities;
  • Establishing cost-effective advances in technology for industry;
  • Creating a framework for regulatory predictability in a global market.
Secretary Salazar has reached out to potential partners in government, industry, and elsewhere to discuss the proposal and has asked that they share ideas regarding the Institute's formation and future operations by November 30, 2010.

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