Through email, Commissioner Welsh commented on the BP Disaster.
"The BP spill is a real catastrophe, in anybody’s book. Subsequent investigations will determine the cause(s) and responsible parties and proper action will be taken by the various regulatory authorities, as well as other entities. There are a tremendous number of responders, over 20,000 people, as I understand. The Office of Conservation is one of the State Agencies that is so engaged. Our Office regularly mans the DNR Emergency Station at the GOHSEP Emergency Control Center in Baton Rouge. Additionally, there is a Coastal Command Center located in Houma, at which we also provide support personnel. Also, we have employed 12 Conservation Field Agents, 6 boats, and 10 vehicles from our Lafayette District office to patrol the coastal waters and area searching for visible oil and regularly advising oil and gas operators and other oil spill authorities.
The BP blowout well is located about 50-miles south of the jurisdictional line between Louisiana and the federal OCS. The federal MMS, US Department of the Interior, is responsible for regulation of the drilling and production activity south of the jurisdictional line. Louisiana State agencies are focusing entirely on the oil spill cleanup effort along the coastline, protection/survival of Louisiana’s coastal areas, and protection/survival of our wildlife and fisheries areas.
Based on this recent BP incident in federal waters, the Office of Conservation is currently in the process of reviewing our existing Louisiana drilling safety rules to determine if any portion thereof needs revision, modification and/or amending. We commonly do such a review following emergency situations, as we have done in similar cases in the past. Such past incident reviews have resulted in the recent upgrading of our blowout preventer rules (e.g., a result of the 2007 gas well blowout near I-10 between Baton Rouge and Lafayette).
The Department of Natural Resources/Office of Conservation has a very informative web site covering the operations and actions taken by our Office during this emergency situation. I urge GHS members to take a look at it. Since 1987, there have been over 33,000 wells drilled in the State. There have been 104 blowouts, of which 8 blowouts have been from rigs located on state water locations. All of these blowouts have been GAS WELLS (no oil well blowouts).
Thanks for asking me to comment.. and keep up the good work on the GHS website!"