Interior Department’s Poor Oversight of Offshore Decommissioning Increases Risks, Government Report Finds

The U.S. Department of the Interior is facing criticism over its failure to adequately enforce the decommissioning of aging offshore oil and gas wells and platforms in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, increasing the risks associated with the infrastructure, according to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The report alleges that the Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) is not ensuring that industry operators meet decommissioning deadlines, leading to a significant backlog in decommissioning with over 40 percent of wells and 50 percent of platforms on Gulf leases that ended between 2010 and 2022 missing the BSEE’s 1-year decommissioning deadline. Moreover, over 75 percent of end-of-lease and idle infrastructure in the Gulf was overdue under BSEE’s deadlines as of June 2023, representing over 2,700 wells and 500 platforms.

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