The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Setting the Offshore Record Straight

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted June 17, 2010

In the two months since the Deepwater Horizon accident, numerous investigations have been launched, several congressional hearings have been held, and many statements have been made about oil and natural gas industry regulation. Unfortunately, many statements about industry regulations have had little or no basis in fact.

Today, API's Erik Milito set the record straight.

In written testimony for the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, Erik explained some basic facts about the offshore oil and natural gas industry and its relationship with the federal government:

  • The industry is heavily regulated. There are 27 statutory authorities, 88 Code of Federal Regulations provisions, and 24 approvals and permits that apply to offshore operations. (Click here to see a simple illustration of the complex offshore regulations).
  • API has more than 500 industry standards, 240 of which address offshore operations. Seventy-eight of the standards are referenced in regulations promulgated by the agency overseeing offshore development.
  • In the past 60 years in the Gulf of Mexico, 42,000 wells have been drilled, including more than 2,200 deepwater wells. Until the Deepwater Horizon accident, these wells were largely unnoticed. Yet today they produce 30 percent of the nation's domestic oil and 13 percent of its natural gas to fuel the economy and provide personal mobility for American consumers.

The industry has pledged to make sure America doesn't experience the same kind of accident ever again. As Erik explained, the industry has assembled the world's leading experts to conduct a top-to-bottom review of offshore drilling procedures.

It has formed task forces to examine offshore operations, emergency response, offshore equipment, leak containment and spill response. And it plans to use findings from the Deepwater Horizon investigations to improve technologies and practices to raise the bar on performance.

"The responsible path forward is to ensure than any discussion of legislative or regulatory action recognizes the important role energy plays in fostering job growth and energy security," Erik said. "Those goals--job growth and energy security--can and should be met through responsible domestic oil and gas development."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.