Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Was MMS Offshore Inspection Program Being Conducted on BP's Deepwater Horizon on April 20, 2010 as Alleged by Zac Zimmerman?

I cannot confirm the truth of Mr. Zimmerman's words in the above video, but an MMS inspection program does exist for Gulf of Mexico oil platforms. The MMS even runs drills where the MMS tests a company's ability to handle an oil spill.



U.S. Department of the Interior

Minerals Management Service

Gulf of Mexico OCS Region

Offshore Inspection Program

Ensures Safe Operations

The Minerals Management Service (MMS) has an extensive, detailed inspection program to ensure the safety of offshore oil and gas operations.
This program places MMS inspectors offshore on drilling rigs and production platforms on a daily basis to check operator compliance with extensive safety and environmental protection requirements.

The MMS inspection program in the Gulf of Mexico is directed by a Regional Office located in New Orleans, and 6 local offices, which provide closer day-to-day review and inspection of drilling plans. These offices are located in Corpus Christi and Lake Jackson, Texas, and Lake Charles, Lafayette, Houma, and New Orleans, Louisiana.

Types of Inspections — The Gulf of Mexico Region of MMS conducts several types of inspection. Individual oil and gas companies (operators) have their drilling rig inspected before it begins drilling and at least once a month while it is drilling. Production operations are inspected before production begins, within two months after production begins, and at least once annually.
Unannounced inspections are conducted to foster a climate of safe operations, to maintain an MMS presence, to focus on operators with a poor performance record, and to re-inspect after a safety feature was previously found defective. The MMS also inspects well-workover and completion operations, pipeline installation, and platform and well abandonment. In addition, MMS certifies the content of all the training courses that industry's offshore personnel are required to attend and ensures that personnel on drilling rigs have had the necessary training.

The MMS also inspects the stockpiles of industry's equipment to contain and clean up oil spills. Stockpiles are located at nine strategic sites along the Gulf coast.
The MMS has instituted a program to land unannounced at an operator's facility to conduct a surprise drill to test the company's ability to deal with an oil spill. These drills have even been conducted at night.

Scope of Inspection Effort — The MMS has 49 inspectors
who go offshore every day using 12 leased helicopters. This $12 million effort places inspectors on rigs and production platforms with great regularity. Drilling inspections, for example, are conducted to ensure that the proper equipment is used, proper procedure is followed, approved drilling plans are followed, sufficient supplies are on location, and proper techniques are followed to maintain control of the well and to prevent blowouts, spills, and other accidents. During FY 95, the Gulf of Mexico Region conducted 1,253 drilling inspections, 4,096 production inspections, and 2,005 pipeline inspections, and 2,993 measurement inspections.

Penalties — If an operator is found in violation of a safety or environmental requirement, a citation is issued requiring that it be fixed within 7 days. On a drilling rig, for example, 160 items are checked. If important enough, the violation may call for the particular well component or the entire complex to be shut in. The MMS has routinely ordered shut-ins of industry operations. If the violation is serious enough and is found to be a "knowing and willful" violation, MMS refers it to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution. For more information, please write or call:

Office of Public Affairs

Minerals Management Service

U.S. Department of the Interior

1201 Elmwood Park Boulevard

New Orleans, Louisiana 70123-2394
(504) 736-2595

Public Information Office


April 1996


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