WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar visited three offshore drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico today, where he received updates on the improved inspection process and additional safety requirements for blowout preventers and well construction.
"We are quickly and thoughtfully implementing safety reforms for offshore energy operations to ensure workers, communities, and the environment are protected as the nation develops its energy supplies," said Salazar. "Today, we saw production activities and shallow water drilling operations that are implementing the new standards as they continue their operations. We also continued to gather important information about the steps industry is taking to address shortcomings in safety, blowout prevention, and spill response capabilities in deep waters, so that those deepwater operations can safely resume."
The Secretary was accompanied by Deputy Secretary David Hayes, Director of Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEM) Michael R. Bromwich, and BOEM Gulf of Mexico Regional Director Lars Herbst.
Salazar today visited: 1) a platform rig on a deepwater floating production facility with a surface blowout preventer stack; 2) a deepwater semi-submersible drilling rig with a subsea blowout preventer stack; and 3) a jack-up rig drilling in shallow water with a surface blowout preventer stack;. Heightened inspections and additional safety measures for drilling rigs were required following the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf. The measures were detailed in the Secretary's 30-Day Safety Report to President Obama and Notices to Lessees issued last month.
Secretary Salazar landed on the Murphy Exploration & Production Company's Front Runner spar facility at Green Canyon Block 338 at approximately 8:45 a.m. The Nabors MODS 200 platform drilling rig is located on this deepwater production facility. Murphy is currently working on Well A-2 on a plug back/re-complete, which is an activity allowed under the deepwater drilling suspension currently in place.
At 11:00 a.m. Secretary Salazar visited the Noble Danny Adkins in Green Canyon Block 247 (Shell Offshore Inc.). The rig is currently executing the necessary inspections for meeting the requirements of the recent Notice to Lessees-05 ("Safety NTL"). All equipment on the rig was available for inspection. Drilling operations on the rig have been halted under the deepwater drilling suspension currently in place.
At 2:00 p.m. the Secretary landed on the Rowan Ralph Coffman drilling rig, which is working for McMoRan Oil & Gas LLC at South Timbalier Block 144 on their Blackbeard East prospect. This rig is a jack-up platform in shallow water and McMoran is currently in the drilling mode with an approximate depth of 19,000 feet with a planned total depth of about 35,000 feet.