BSEE's Assertion of Authority over Oilfield Contractors Questionable

With the settlement of certain portions of the Deepwater Horizon multidistrict litigation completed or imminent, offshore oilfield-service companies need to be reminded that they are now regulated differently than ever before. The Department of Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), the federal agency that regulates offshore oil and gas, has made it clear that it intends to hold not just operators and leaseholders accountable for offshore pollution, but also contractors and service providers who do not act as the owner, operator, or person in charge of a vessel, onshore facility, or offshore facility (oilfield contractors). Such action is unprecedented, and there is good reason to question the BSEE’s authority in this regard. Litigation over this issue is likely, particularly as the multidistrict litigation approaches a resolution.


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