The US Department of the Interior (DOI), is looking at possibly merging two departments – The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) – which became separate entities in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, according to Bloomberg.
A recombining of their functions is believed to be under consideration by the administration of President Donald Trump.
Prior to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil rig explosion at BP’s Macondo well the functions of BOEM and BSEE were performed by one body, the Minerals Management Service (MMS).
But after the Deepwater Horizon blast, which killed 11 people and was followed by nearly three months of crude gushing from the uncapped well, the administration of President Barack Obama split MMS into BSEE and BOEM.
There was a third section, the Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR) which collected money raised by offshore energy development through royalties, rental payments and bonus bids. ONRR will continue to exist separately even if the other two agencies reunite.
BSEE polices the offshore industry to ensure it meets environmental and safety regulations, whereas BOEM is responsible for resource evaluation, planning and leasing.
When MMS held both those functions it faced corruption scandals in 1990 and 2008, scandals that were blamed on conflicts of interest within the body.
Separation was intended to remove that conflict of interest.
Reconstituting the MMS, under whatever name, would suggest the DOI is easing up on enforcing regulation, which would dovetail with the general philosophy of President Trump, who has called for expansion of areas where offshore drilling should be allowed.