In response to the offshore safety concerns raised by the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion last year, American offshore oil drilling companies are planning to set up a safety institute on the same lines as those that have been established by foreign oil companies. According to the American Petroleum Institute, the new institute will be known as the Center for Offshore Safety, and will be an effort at strengthening the industry's ability to self regulate, something that has been an issue of criticism recently. According to the American Petroleum Institute, the Center for Offshore Safety will be financed by American offshore gas drilling companies. There is no information yet about the size of the new board, or its budget. The new board will be based in Houston, and will operate under the Petroleum Institute. To have any effectiveness, the body needs to be independent of the American Petroleum Institute, and at this point in time, it is not clear what level of independence the board would enjoy. In fact as a maritime attorney, I am a little doubtful about the effectiveness of a board that is constituted by the very companies it is meant to regulate. I wonder whether there will be any impact at all on an industry that is notoriously averse to self regulation. This seems far too much like the foxes guarding the henhouse, for it to be a promising new step towards offshore safety.
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