Will MMS be Split in Two?
The first political backlash from the recent explosion and sinking of Deepwater Horizon appears to be the Department of Interior’s Minerals Management Service, as it movement is reportedly underway to split the agency that polices the offshore drilling industry, according to articles in the May 12 edition of the Wall Street Journal. The impetus for the split? As currently configured, MMS is responsible both to ensure safety of oil drilling in federal waters, as well as collecting royalties from oil and gas companies. While there is no implication that MMS had a role in the recent Deepwater Horizon disaster, this dual role could potentially be viewed as a conflict of interest, as a continuous flow of oil bodes well for the bottom line. Stay tuned for what promises to be an active summer of hearings on Capitol Hill, and a number of significant changes to the way in which offshore oil and gas drillers conduct their business.