President Obama’s fiscal year 2016 budget request for the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) is $204.7 million. The proposal sustains funding increases received in previous years and provides critically needed resources to further strengthen BSEE’s regulatory and oversight capabilities for oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf.
“The President’s 2016 request fully reflects the Administration’s continued emphasis by ensuring that development of the nation’s vast offshore energy resources is conducted in a safe and environmentally responsible manner,” Brian Salerno, BSEE Director, said. “Funds will be used to recruit expert engineers, scientists, inspectors and oil spill prevention specialists to support the development of risk-based approaches to oversight and compliance on the Outer Continental Shelf.”
By the end of 2014, there were 69 deepwater rigs and non-rig units working in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), up from 40 at the start of the year. The Energy Information Administration projects offshore production will continue to grow through 2040, as the pace of development activity quickens and new, large development projects, predominantly in the deepwater and ultra-deepwater areas of the GOM, are brought into production.
The 2016 budget will go toward building a robust culture of safety, with a strong focus on risk reduction. BSEE will bolster its capacity for analyzing data gained through incident reporting requirements, near-miss reporting and real-time monitoring. The group will also continue to work with industry to better understand its safety processes.
The 2016 budget request includes an increase of $1.7 million to establish the Engineering Technology Assessment Center to support the evaluation of new and emerging technologies and develop associated safety and oversight protocols. The increased funding will add greater depth and capacity to BSEE, allowing it to keep pace with developments in the industry. The Center will provide a Bureau-wide focal point for emerging technology evaluation. The FY 2016 request also better aligns inspection fees with BSEE’s risk-based approach to inspections and compliance.
The president’s budget proposes $14.9 million for Oil Spill Research, equal to the 2015 enacted level. The Oil Spill Research program initiates applied research used to support decision-making on methods and equipment to prevent or mitigate oil spills. The request will address key knowledge and technology gaps in oil spill response, focusing on deepwater and Arctic environments.