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James Watson, director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, speaks at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston. (The Houston Chronicle)

Offshore enforcement chief outlines approach to safety

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James Watson took the reins at the agency that oversees offshore energy development just over a year ago. In an interview with the Houston Chronicle, Watson outlines his enforcement philosophy, discusses a risk-based approach to policing the industry and highlights bureau training programs.
Gulf Rig Fire

Houston’s Black Elk Energy had history of violations before fatal fire

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Before last week’s fatal fire at one of Black Elk Energy’s oil production platforms, the five-year-old firm had racked up more than 300 documented mistakes and violations offshore, according to federal regulators who cracked down on the Houston-based company Wednesday.
Chevron's Genesis platform is shown in the Gulf of Mexico.  (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Feds put contractors on notice: Violate offshore regs & you’ll face fines too

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The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement today affirmed that it will not back down from a year-old plan to punish oil field service firms, rig suppliers and other contractors for running afoul of offshore drilling rules. In a policy document released this morning, the agency laid out its plans for policing offshore contractors — not just oil companies — for those violations.
Mickal Vogt of Covington, La., uses a stick to place tar balls in a jar that washed up on the shore in Orange Beach, Ala., Saturday, June 12, 2010. Large amounts of the oil battered the Alabama coast, leaving deposits of the slick mess some 4-6 inches thick on the beach in some parts. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Feds charge BP with new oil spill violations

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The federal government today issued fresh citations to BP in connection with the 2010 Gulf oil spill and accused the oil company of violating safety and environmental regulations governing offshore drilling.
Fire boat response crews battle the blazing remnants of the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010.  (Photo: HO/AFP/Getty Images)

Feds kick off oil spill sanctions against BP, Transocean & Halliburton

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The federal government today kicked off a long process of fining BP, Transocean and Halliburton for violating offshore drilling rules tied to the 2011 oil spill. The companies could be forced to pay as much as $45.7 million for 15 separate violations of those rules,