Tales from the Trail

What’s in a name? Will BOE smell sweeter than MMS?

June 22, 2010

KENYA-VOLCANO/EXPORTSShakespeare definitely put it best, in that famous balcony scene from “Romeo and Juliet”: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.” But what if the original smell wasn’t so great? Will a name change make a difference?

That might have been the purpose behind the Obama administration’s decision to change the name of the U.S. agency that oversees offshore oil drilling — the Minerals Management Service — to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, or Bureau of Ocean Energy for short.

The name change is part of a redo at the agency, which is being broken up into three divisions so that the same agency that grants permits to drill doesn’t also oversee safety. There will also be a new chief , former Justice Department Inspector General Michael Bromwich, to lead the reorganization. The renovation at the agency comes after criticism over the old MMS’s handling of BP’s Deepwater Horizon well and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

But does BOE — or BOEMRE — come more trippingly off the tongue than MMS? Is it enough of a change? Was it necessary to change the name as the agency itself morphs into something different? And lastly, any suggestions for an improved version of the new name?

Photo credit: REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya (Roses at the Maridadi Flowers warehouse in Naivasha, Kenya, April 19, 2010)

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I work in the oil & gas industry and used to be in charge of the MMS reporting so I know a few things about the agency and industry. What I find even more comical than the fact that the government thinks a name change will make a difference, is that ‘BOE’ means something already in the oil & gas industry. In the industry, we use BOE on a daily basis which means ‘barrel of oil equivalent’. I think it just shows how clueless the government and MMS are about the oil & gas industry, that they’d change the name of the MMS to BOE when the abbreviation is already being used. So not only is the government confused and clueless but now they will create confusion within the industry as to which BOE you mean when you say it or type it…

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