Oil Spill Panel Recommends Substantial Reforms, Stronger Oversight

Oil Spill Panel Recommends Substantial Reforms, Stronger OversightOil industry practices and government rules must be subjected to substantial reform to prevent future accidents similar to BP's (BP) Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico last April, said a report released Tuesday by the presidential panel probing the incident, Bloomberg News reported.

The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill said in its report that deep-water oil exploration needs to be overseen by an independent agency within the Interior Department, the wire service reported. Such an oversight agency would be tasked with preventing the sort of communication lapses and training failures that occurred among BP, Halliburton (HAL) and Transocean (RIG), which helped lead to the accident, according to Bloomberg.

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The Obama administration has been criticized in some circles for its handling of the oil industry catastrophe, which killed 11 workers and spewed 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The spill did widespread damage to the ecosystem along the Gulf Coast and caused billions of dollars of economic damage to the region's fishing, shellfish and tourism industries. The accident also led to the ouster of the CEO of BP, which owned 65% of the rig.

The addition of such oversight and changes to existing oil-drilling regulation will cost as much as $100 million, the wire service said, citing the panel's report.

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