The Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEM) has increased its inspection force of oil and natural gas rigs in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) by more than 40% since April 2010, according to the agency.

BOEM currently has 79 inspectors operating in the GOM compared with 56 inspectors on April 20, 2010, at the time of the Marcondo well blowout, and is in the process of hiring five more inspectors, an agency spokesman said. He did not say how many more inspectors would be hired by the end of the year.

“As more inspectors are hired, we will be deploying multi-disciplinary inspection teams instead of individual inspectors, providing broader oversight to ensure that offshore operators are complying with federal regulations and conducting their operations in a safe and environmentally responsible manner,” said BOEM Director Michael R. Bromwich.

In addition to on-the-job training, BOEM recently established the National Offshore Training Center and has developed the agency’s first formal training curriculum, which has been piloted with new BOEM inspectors. An initial introductory course was recently held for 13 new BOEM inspectors. The agency said 24 additional courses will be developed covering specific areas of offshore inspections.

Moreover, the agency said BOEM currently is in the process of hiring a training director who will have the responsibility to further develop the bureau’s training policies, procedures and programs and improve the technical and professional capabilities of offshore inspections and compliance personnel.

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