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James Watson

Tommy Beaudreau, (Rich Clement/Bloomberg)

Interior Department sees leadership shuffle

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Tommy Beaudreau, the Interior Department official who helped oversee the restructuring of the federal agency that oversees offshore drilling following the Deepwater Horizon disaster, is leaving his post.
James Watson, director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, speaks at the 2012 Offshore Technology Conference Tuesday, May 1, 2012, in Houston. ( Brett Coomer / Houston Chronicle )

Recent accidents highlight shallow water dangers, departing regulator says

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Recent accidents at offshore oil and gas facilities highlight the risks of producing energy on the shallow continental shelf as well as the Gulf of Mexico’s deepest frontiers, said a departing U.S. regulator James Watson.
An aerial view of the Ensco 8502 drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico. (Jennifer A. Dlouhy/Houston Chronicle)

Feds push stricter rules for offshore production systems

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The Obama administration on Wednesday proposed a rule to tighten standards for oil and gas production systems used offshore, in a bid to keep pace with the industry’s march into deeper waters and more challenging terrain.
Former Coast Guard Vice Adm. Brian Salerno is set to take over as head of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement in August. Here, he speaks at the World Maritime Observance in Tampa, Fl. in 2011. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Rob Simpson)

Obama administration names new offshore drilling regulator

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The Obama administration is once again tapping a Coast Guard veteran to be the nation’s next chief offshore drilling regulator. Former Coast Guard Vice Adm. Brian Salerno will take over as director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement later this month, succeeding James Watson in the role.
Lower marine riser package, left, and lower blowout preventer stack shown at National Oilwell Varco in August, 2010, Houston. (Chronicle/Melissa Phillip

Lawmakers press feds for info on blowout preventer mandates

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A dozen lawmakers are pressing the Obama administration to outline its plans for tightening standards on emergency equipment used to safeguard offshore oil wells.
James Watson, director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, speaks at the 2012 Offshore Technology Conference Tuesday, May 1, 2012, in Houston. ( Brett Coomer / Houston Chronicle )

Top offshore drilling regulator stepping down

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The nation’s top offshore drilling regulator is set to step down later this year, just as the federal government drafts new rules to boost the safety of coastal oil exploration.
(Photo by NOAA via Getty Images)

Preparing for hurricanes, 1,200 miles away from the Gulf

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One thousand miles away from the Gulf of Mexico, scientists and government officials will be huddling on June 27 to strategize ways to safeguard offshore oil platforms and pipelines when hurricanes bear down on the infrastructure.
(Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement)

Feds launch new offshore safety institute

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Three years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster put a new focus on the risks of offshore drilling, the Interior Department on Wednesday announced it would create a new institute focused on boosting the safety of coastal oil and gas development.
James Watson, director Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, speaks during a safety luncheon during the Offshore Technology Conference at Reliant Park. ( Brett Coomer / Houston Chronicle )

Offshore industry moves toward audits of safety systems

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Oil and gas companies working offshore have until June 4, 2015 to let outside auditors examine their new government-mandated safety programs, but right now, there aren’t any investigators qualified to do the job, experts said Thursday.
ShearMax low force shear rams that can shear drill pipe tool joints measuring up to 6 5/8 inch in approximately 30 seconds are shown at National Oilwell Varco in Houston last year.  (Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle)

New blowout preventer mandates coming — but companies won’t have to comply overnight

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Federal regulators are on track to propose new standards for boosting the reliability and performance of emergency devices safeguarding offshore wells later this year — but that doesn’t mean the industry will have to comply overnight.