Blowout could tip regulator focus to shallow water
NEW ORLEANS - Last week's blowout on a natural gas rig off the Louisiana coast could shift regulators' focus to shallow-water drilling and make an overhaul of safety equipment regulations more likely.
James Watson, director of the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, says he plans to meet with executives from shallow-water drillers to discuss safety and risk reduction.
The cause of the blowout of the Walter Oil & Gas well is under investigation, including the apparent failure of the blowout preventer, a stack of valves that's supposed to shut off a well when drillers lose control.
Since the 2010 BP oil spill, much of regulators' focus has been on drilling in Gulf of Mexico water thousands of feet deep. The Walter well is in 154 feet of water.