VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- The U.S. off-shore inspection staff could grow by 200 to oversee the drilling industry following the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, officials said.
Michael Bromwich, director of the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, also tried to assure international regulators attending a conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, that his agency's more robust inspection scheme allowed the Obama administration to lift the deep-water drilling moratorium earlier than planned, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported Tuesday.
"Over the coming year, BOEM anticipates adding scores of inspectors and engineers to its staff," Bromwich said during the International Regulators Forum conference. "My hope is that we can add as many as 200 new inspectors, engineers, environmental scientists, and other key staff to support our agency in carrying out its important oversight functions."
The bureau now has 64 inspectors to inspect the thousands of platforms in the gulf, and the Pacific and Arctic oceans, spokeswoman Eileen Angelico said, the Times-Picayune reported.
Bromwich, a former inspector general, also has begun a nationwide series of hearings to meet with industry, political and environmental stakeholders on the best way to resume drilling, The Times-Picayune reported.
He asked Congress for $100 million to increase the number of inspectors and to expand the number of engineers monitoring well-design plans and rig data. The agency received $25 million of his request so far.
"We are also strengthening standards for equipment, safety, environmental safeguards, and we are going to dramatically strengthen oversight," he said.