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US Coast Guard and BSEE sign MOA for regulation of mobile offshore drilling units

05th June 2013

US Coast Guard, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement sign agreement for regulating mobile offshore drilling units following BP's 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill

US Coast Guard and BSEE push for regulation of mobile offshore drilling units
Fast Response Cutter USCGC MARGARET NORVELL operating in the US Gulf of Mexico

Top representatives from the US Coast Guard (USCG) and the government’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) signed on Tuesday a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for regulating mobile offshore drilling units (MODU) on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

USCG rear admiral Joseph Servidio and BSEE director James Watson signed the MOA, the first signed between the two agencies since BSEE became a bureau.  The agreement aims to improve offshore safety and environmental protection.

"MODUs are unique and dynamic vessels that are an important part of the offshore oil and gas industry's exploration efforts but as we learned from the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, these highly complex drilling units with their state-of-the-art equipment and ultra-deepwater drilling capabilities must be closely monitored" said Watson. "This agreement… serves as a significant milestone in achieving coordinated oversight of MODUs while continuing our joint effort to improve offshore safety."

Under the current regulatory system, both the USCG and BSEE have shared responsibilities for the regulation of safety management systems on the OCS. The MOA promotes a joint approach in the regulation of MODUs by outlining the responsibilities of each agency for inspection and oversight of the systems and sub-systems associated with mobile offshore drilling units engaged in offshore drilling operations.  The USCG and BSEE will use the MOA to better align policies and procedures while also collaborating on future regulatory projects.

The MOA follows an overarching memorandum of understanding (MOU) between BSEE and the USCG signed on 29 November, the first MOU between the two agencies since the BSEE became a bureau. The MOU outlined the efforts of the two agencies to coordinate responsibilities for regulation and enforcement on the OCS and for the establishment of future focused agreements such as the one signed on Tuesday.