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Interior Department orders drillers to detail blowout plans

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Change reverses policy of Bush administration
  • Interior Secretary Salazar says spill made clear industry was not prepared
  • Salazar said he didn't expect change to delay issuance of permits

Washington -- The Department of the Interior on Friday ordered oil and gas companies to submit information addressing the possibility of a well blowout and detailing the steps they are taking to prevent a blowout whenever they file for a drilling permit, exploration plan, or development plan.

The order comes nearly two months after a well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico began pumping oil and gas into the water. It said it reverses a policy adopted during the previous administration that exempted some offshore oil and gas operations in the Gulf from the requirement.

"The BP oil spill has laid bare fundamental shortcomings in the oil and gas industry's ability to prevent and stop catastrophic blowouts," said Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in a statement. "While the challenges of intervening in a catastrophic blowout are significantly greater in deep water than in shallow water, all operators should provide basic information about potential blowouts, and steps that are being taken to reduce the possibility of a blow out."

He said he did not expect that the requirement would delay the issuance of permits for the drilling of shallow-water wells.

The order was issued a day after BP CEO Tony Hayward testified he had known little about the well before it began spewing oil and gas into the Gulf nearly two months ago.