The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the U.S. Coast Guard said Thursday they have reached a memorandum of agreement (MOA) aimed at bolstering the working relationship of the two agencies to improve the management of the safety and environmental protection responsibilities on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

“This agreement with the Coast Guard will bring together resources and expertise from both agencies as we work to ensure both orderly resource development and protection of the human, marine and coastal environments,” said BSEE Director James Watson.

“This agreement solidifies the commitment of each regulatory agency to work across agency boundaries in order to develop a coordinated regulatory approach that promotes safety,” said USCG Rear Admiral Joseph Servidio.

The MOA, which Watson and Servidio signed on April 30, ensures that BSEE and the USCG will take a “comprehensive, joint approach” to safety and environmental management of the federal OCS, according to BSEE.

The MOA is implemented in accordance with the broader, overarching memorandum of understanding (MOU) that the two agencies signed in November 2012, the BSEE said. The MOU, which is more formal than the MOA, outlined the agencies’ shared goal to closely coordinate responsibilities of regulation and enforcement on the OCS. The MOA is more detailed than the MOU and alleviates any ambiguity as to who is to do what.

The agreement calls on the two agencies to identify a coordinator for safety and environmental management, who will hold regular meetings to identify areas that may require development of joint policy or guidance to assist in the development and implementation of more effective safety management systems. It further requires that the BSEE and the USCG determine the interface between a vessel’s International Safety Management Code Compliant SMS and offshore operators’ Safety and Environmental Management Systems.

The coordinators will facilitate joint evaluations/boardings/inspections of offshore oil and gas facilities at least once a year, according to the MOA. Whenever possible, the BSEE and USCG coordinators will travel together on these joint evaluations/boardings/inspections.

The agreement also calls for the two agencies to review and discuss all OCS-related regulatory projects related to safety management, share information involving their respective safety management efforts, and to provide each other’s staff with an opportunity to attend training courts and agency-sponsored events related to OCS safety and environmental management.

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