By Ayesha Rascoe
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of the Interior will propose new rules to strengthen offshore oil drilling safety, the top offshore regulator said on Tuesday.
On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, the Interior Department's Michael Bromwich laid out his agency's goals for preventing another catastrophic deepwater accident and defended his agency's push for more stringent regulations.
"Our goal will be nothing less than a further set of enhancements that will increase drilling safety and diminish the risks of a major blowout," Bromwich, head of the Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Management, told an offshore drilling panel at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Bromwich said the new rules would address rig blowout preventers, the fail-safe equipment that malfunctioned during last year's drilling disaster.
A forensic review of the blowout preventer from BP Plc's Macondo well, which was supposed to act as a last line of defense against a catastrophic spill, found that an off-center pipe stopped the device from operating properly.
An explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20, 2010, killed 11 workers and spewed nearly 5 million barrels of oil from BP's ruptured well.
(Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; editing by Jim Marshall)