Minerals Management Service Questioned At Senate Hearing

Date : 05/11/2010 @ 11:58AM
Source : Dow Jones News
Stock : Trinity Industries, Inc. (TRN)
Quote : 34.61  0.41 (1.20%) @ 12:05AM

Minerals Management Service Questioned At Senate Hearing

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The Interior Department's Minerals Management Service came under scrutiny Tuesday as lawmakers questioned whether oversight of oil-rig safety equipment was adequate.

Bud Danenberger, the former head of MMS's offshore regulatory program, told the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that the agency needs "more data on the performance of" shear rams, a key part of deepwater-drilling safety equipment that is supposed to shear off, or cut, pipes, as a last resort in the event of a blowout.

"Isn't that what MMS is supposed to do?" asked Jeff Sessions (R, Ala.), who said that oil from the April 20 accident is starting to lap up on the Alabama coastline. "Could they have mandated changes so that they could be certain to work?"

The former regulator said that all components of the safety equipment, known as a blowout preventer, are pressure tested and certified. But Sen. Bob Menendez (D, N.J.) questioned whether the test was "appropriate" in retrospect given the explosion.

"Why is it that the testing always seems to pass and yet when it was needed it failed?" Menendez asked.

Danenberger said that "it's an appropriate test" but "whether more needs to be done we'll have to learn that."

Blowout preventers are tested every 14 days. Federal regulators had previously required testing every seven days.

-By Siobhan Hughes, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-6654; siobhan.hughes@dowjones.com

 
 

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