Deepwater Horizon: Coast Guard and Interior Could Improve Their Offshore Energy Inspection Programs
The April 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, a mobile offshore drilling unit (MODU), showed that the consequences of an incident on an offshore energy facility can be significant. A key way to ensure that offshore energy facilities are meeting applicable security, safety, and production standards is through conducting periodic inspections of the facilities. The Coast Guard and the Department of the Interior (Interior) share oversight responsibility for offshore energy facilities. The Coast Guard is to conduct security inspections of such facilities, whereas based on an agreement between the two agencies, Interior is to conduct safety compliance inspections on some offshore facilities on behalf of the Coast Guard as well as its own inspections to verify production. This testimony addresses: (1) the extent to which the Coast Guard has conducted security inspections of offshore energy facilities, and what additional actions are needed; (2) the extent to which Interior has conducted inspections of offshore energy facilities, including those on behalf of the Coast Guard, and challenges it faces in conducting such inspections; and (3) the Coast Guard's oversight authority of MODUs. This testimony is based on GAO products issued from September 2008 through October 2011.