Sustainable safety crucial to offshore industry

April 9, 2015

On 9 April, thought leaders in the offshore oil sector held an industry discussion focused on the importance of sustainable safety in the offshore oil and natural gas industry. The group included Jack Gerard, president and chief executive for the American Petroleum Institute (API) Randall Luthi, president of the National Ocean Industries Assoc. (NOIA) and Stephen Colville, president and chief executive for the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC).

“Producing more oil and natural gas here at home has not only grown our economy, but has strengthened our national security and made the US a world leader in energy,” Gerard said. “What makes this all possible is our ability to develop our energy resources safely and responsibly.”

During the five years following the fatal accident that ensued after Transocean's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig caught fire while drilling for BP in the Macondo prospect oil field, the industry and American regulators have kept their commitment to make offshore operations safer than ever before, said the panel. Immediately following the incident, regulators launched a comprehensive review of offshore safety measures and practices, including actions to improve accident prevention, intervention and response capabilities.

In 2011, API formed the Center for Offshore Safety (COS). The organization shares best practices based on API standards and required by federal regulations. “This week, COS reports that, during all of 2013, its members’ operations did not experience a single fatality or loss of well control over the course of 42 MM workhours,” said Gerard.

“No well is worth the loss of a life,” said NOIA’s Luthi. “We’ve seen a plethora of final and proposed regulations. These include rules of safety and environmental management systems, dynamic positioning, artic safety, and upcoming blowout preventer and well-control rules, and a re-emphasis on an industrywide safety culture. But more regulation does not necessarily guarantee a safer environment.”

Fortunately, during the past few years, regulators and industry leader have reached out to each other to better understand what is expected and what can be done to improve safety, he said. “This level of cooperation sets a firm basis for enhanced safety and it is our goal that communication lines remain open.”

Safety improvement will be even more important going forward. “Today, drilling remains absolutely essential,” said IADC’s Colville. “Hydrocarbons predominately power our world, enabling and sustaining all human wellbeing. It’s inarguable that our lives would change massively for the worse without continued access to reliable and plentiful energy. But we recognize that we must continue to strive to drill ever more safely, cleanly and efficiently for everyone’s sake.”

Photo courtesy of US Coast Guard



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