Exercise seeks to improve deepwater drilling safety

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The federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement initiated Tuesday the first drill designed to deploy critical pieces of state-of-the-art well control equipment to the ultra-deep seabed of the Gulf of Mexico in an effort to exercise the oil and gas industry’s response to a potential subsea blowout.

The multiweek exercise is part of a series of planned and unannounced exercises and inspections conducted by the agency to ensure the industry’s ability to meet the conditions of their oil spill response plans and effectively respond to a potential spill.

Following the Deepwater Horizon incident, the Interior Department undertook the most aggressive overhaul of oil and gas safety regulations in U.S. history. Included in these reforms is the expectation that companies would have access to and could deploy surface and subsea containment resources that would be adequate to promptly respond to a blowout or other loss of well control, several components of which are being tested in this exercise initiated today.

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