The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have issued a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for up to $40 million, over a 5-year period, for the Operation and Maintenance of the Ocean Energy Safety Institute (OESI 2.0) to support additional improvements in safety and environmental sustainability in offshore energy exploration and production.

“Our nation’s energy, economic, and national security rely on our all-of-the-above approach to producing safe, reliable, and resilient energy,” said Deputy Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes. “Through federal collaboration and a cross-sector approach, we can increase support for offshore energy production while protecting our workers and the marine environment.”

“During the Trump Administration, BSEE has undertaken hundreds of improvement initiatives coupled with a ‘We Can Do It ALL’ vision, which have helped reestablish a positive brand of American offshore energy,” said BSEE Director Scott Angelle. “OESI 2.0 is the latest strategic and targeted initiative which will benefit America for years to come.”

BSEE staff implemented about 110 new environmental and 130 new safety initiatives to equip itself with strong, smart, and durable processes and programs. The results are impressive:

Consistently Achieved Ratio of Less than 1.25% Flared/Vented Gas to Produced Gas: One of Best Performing Producing Provinces in the USA;

Zero Incidental Marine Mammal or Sea Turtle Fatalities from Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Activities since at least 2017;

Less Oil Spilled in 2018 and 2019 from Active Exploration and Production Operations on Federal Offshore Leases in at least a Quarter Century;

2018 Ratio of Volume Spilled to Volume Produced: Approximately 13 Tablespoons in a 660,430 Gallon Olympic-Sized Pool;

2019 Ratio of Volume Spilled to Volume Produced: Approximately 17 Tablespoons in a 660,430 Gallon Olympic-Sized Pool;

Steady Decline in Total Recordable Incidents/Illness Rates for Offshore Workers, 2019: 2nd Best Performance in USA among High-Hazard Industries;

More Oil Produced: 2018 & 2019 Record-High Production:2018: 647.3 Million Barrels
2019: 696.9 Million Barrels;

Increased Royalty Payments to the Government: 2017 to 2018: $3.8 Billion to $5.2 Billion
2018 to 2019: $5.2 Billion to $5.7 Billion;

2019 Offshore Supported 275,000 Total Domestic Jobs, $60 Billion Total Economic Contributions in the U.S.

While it is the American way to be leaders and pioneers, we cannot ever forget the importance of safety and environmental stewardship. Without it, great achievements are temporary.

“Under the Trump Administration, the U.S. has become the world’s largest producer of oil and gas and second highest generator of solar and wind. Offshore energy is a key component of this feat, making OESI 2.0 all the more important,” said Acting Under Secretary of Energy Steve Winberg.

“America is the #1 producer in the world, with offshore representing 15% of America’s oil Portfolio,” said Angelle. “This joint collaboration with the Department of Energy will ensure offshore energy exploration and production remain safe and environmentally sustainable.”

OESI was originally envisioned as an entity that would facilitate research and development (R&D) on, and implementation of, operational improvements in the areas of offshore drilling safety and environmental protection, blowout containment and oil spill prevention and response.

Through a 5-year project agreement, the agencies will jointly support a world-class program of R&D related to offshore oil, natural gas, wind, and marine hydrokinetic energy production, with a focus on safety, environmental monitoring, and operational improvements.

OESI 2.0 will expand the scope of OESI to include offshore renewable energy development considerations, as well as oil and gas production and development considerations, through a collaborative initiative involving government, academia, and scientific experts.

The recipient institution receiving the award will be responsible for managing OESI, providing input on yearly objectives, and conducting certain work to further the attainment of those objectives.

While OESI will operate independently of BSEE and DOE, both agencies will be substantially involved in the institute through a Joint Steering Committee (JSC), which will include representatives from each agency with expertise related to oil and gas, offshore wind, and marine and hydrokinetic energy technologies. The JSC will provide input to OESI on its technology roadmaps and annual plans, as well as review and approve its major deliverables.

Not resting on the improvements, Angelle stated, “We have embraced a philosophy of C’est Pas Fini. OESI 2.0 is one way we can help drive safety performance and environmental sustainability offshore by establishing a World Center of Excellence.”