Secretary Salazar and Director Watson Respond to NAE-NRC Report on the Deepwater Horizon Blowout

Last edited 09/05/2019

WASHINGTON - On May 11, 2010, shortly after the blowout of the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar asked the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the National Research Council (NRC) to conduct an independent and science-based investigation of the root causes of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Today, the NAE-NRC released its final report on the blowout and lessons learned for improving offshore drilling safety.

“This independent, science-based analysis of what went wrong in the lead up to the blowout has helped to affirm the tremendous efforts we have made in the last 18 months to raise the bar for safety and oversight of offshore oil and gas operations. I appreciate the rigorous work the experts on the NAE and NRC team have undertaken to understand the root causes of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Their analysis compliments the body of work that has helped us take steps to strengthen our oversight, including reports by the Joint Investigation Team and the President's Oil Spill Commission,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.“The work we have done to implement rigorous new offshore drilling and safety rules and reform offshore regulation and oversight is in line with the recommendations of the Committee and with our goals moving forward.”

In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, the Obama Administration put in place significant new safeguards to protect the environment beyond what has ever existed before. These new safety measures include heightened drilling safety standards to reduce the chances that a loss of well control might occur in the first place, as well as a new focus on containment capabilities in the event of a blowout or oil spill. More information on new applicable regulations and standards for both shallow and deepwater drilling operations is available at:

The NAE-NRC report cited the need for ongoing training, recruitment, funding, and research and development as critical to the success of the offshore regulator.

“Today's report reaffirms many of my top priorities for BSEE – full staffing of our new National Offshore Training and Learning Center, as well as enhancements and improvements to our offshore regulatory and enforcement programs,” said Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Director James Watson. “The NAE and NRC team has identified critical issues that demand action by both the federal government and industry, and we remain committed to ongoing discussions and collaboration as we move forward in building a strong and independent agency with the resources and expertise to provide aggressive oversight of offshore oil and gas operations.”

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