Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) Director Michael R. Bromwich today visited Tulane University in Louisiana, toured a deepwater drilling facility, and discussed Interior's ongoing efforts to promote safe and balanced development of our nation's offshore oil and gas resources.
In the morning, Secretary Salazar and Director Bromwich visited a Noble Energy facility in the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 70 miles southeast of Venice, Louisiana, where they plan to drill a well in 6,500 feet of water. Noble Energy, who received the first deepwater drilling permit approved by BOEMRE since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, was the first operator to successfully demonstrate in a permit application that it is capable of containing a subsea blowout if it were to occur. BOEMRE has approved operations for the drilling of ten deepwater wells since February 28, 2011.
"The deepwater operations that are resuming in the Gulf of Mexico are meeting the stronger safety and environmental protection requirements we have set, including the requirement that companies show they are prepared to respond to subsea blowouts and spills," said Secretary Salazar. "Director Bromwich and I believe that the United States can and should set the gold standard for safe offshore energy development."
Noble Energy officials and engineers gave Salazar and Bromwich a tour of the facility, which included a discussion of how Noble Energy has adapted and conformed to the Department's new and rigorous safety practices, including enhanced containment capabilities, the Notices to Lessees (NTL) N06 and N10, and the Interim Final Safety Rule.
In the afternoon, Salazar and Bromwich visited Tulane University as part of a campaign to recruit students from the nation's top colleges and universities to join the United States' offshore oil and gas regulatory program. Salazar and Bromwich met with students regarding careers in public service, including environmental science positions available at BOEMRE to do work in fields ranging from environmental studies to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review to environmental compliance -- all of which are critical to the balanced development of offshore resources. Director Bromwich is visiting 12 universities around the country throughout April and May. To date, BOEMRE has already received more than 450 applications for positions during the recruitment tour.
"As we work to elevate the role of science in our decision-making, we must attract top-flight environmental scientists to conduct scientific studies, complete legally-mandated environmental reviews, and fill important positions in environmental compliance," said Director Bromwich. "These aggressive recruitment efforts underscore our seriousness about environmental issues."
Prior to meeting with students, Secretary Salazar and Director Bromwich toured Tulane University's environmental science laboratory facilities.