Interior weighs expansion of offshore rules to contractors

“Among the many, many things we are reviewing is whether our regulations could or should be extended to cover not only operators directly, but other entities like Transocean that supply the rigs or supply the services to the rigs,” Bromwich said.
Bromwich said information he has received thus far from the agency’s regulators and attorneys suggests that the current authority is not able to extend that far, and hence congressional action may be needed to implement such a step.

But he stressed the question remains under review, noting Congress “may” be needed if Interior decides rules that capture contractors are needed.

Bromwich and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar spoke to reporters at Interior headquarters ahead of the upcoming one-year anniversary of the start of the BP oil spill. Salazar touted what the drilling reforms that he said is allowing development to proceed more safely.

"The Gulf of Mexico remains an incredibly important energy resource for our nation, and we are moving forward with all of the power we have within Interior and the government to make sure the president's policy of safe oil-and-gas production is pursued and a goal which we will achieve," Salazar said.

But many Republicans allege the department is moving too slowly in the issuance of offshore drilling permits and making too few areas available for leasing.

This post was updated at 5:28 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.