Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) today released a new report, which found significant and increasing cybersecurity risks to offshore oil and gas drilling infrastructure, namely equipment operational technology. House Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee Chair Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) requested the report in December 2021.
GAO’s full report is available here: https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-23-105789
According to the report, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE)—the primary agency responsible for regulating and ensuring the safety of offshore oil and gas activities—has long recognized the cybersecurity risks posed by offshore infrastructure but has so far taken few actions to address them. The report recommends that BSEE immediately develop and implement a strategy to address these risks, including risk assessment and mitigation.
“Coastal communities situated near offshore oil rigs already live under threat of environmental disaster every day, but the cybersecurity issues identified in this report add yet another danger to an already long list,” said Chair Grijalva. “The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement must take the recommendations in this report seriously and make the reforms that are necessary to protect our frontline communities and the environment. Ramping down offshore and onshore oil production at large should always be our first priority, but we must also make sure that existing production is done as safely and responsibly as possible.”
Offshore oil and gas infrastructure in U.S. waters consists of more than 1,600 structures, including drill ships, productions facilities, pipelines, and related facilities on the Outer Continental Shelf. A successful cyberattack on the operational technology of offshore oil and gas infrastructure could cause significant and potentially catastrophic damage to equipment, resulting in physical, environmental, and economic harm. The 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, which resulted in 11 deaths, serious injuries, and the largest marine oil spill in U.S. history, demonstrates the severity of risk posed by damaged offshore infrastructure.
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