BP's US safety culture draws fire in independent review

Uchenna Izundu
International Editor

LONDON, Jan. 17 –- BP's US refinery and corporate safety culture has been severely criticized in a report by an independent review panel investigating the explosion last March that killed 15 people and left 170 people injured at BP's Texas City refinery.

The 374-page report, led by James Baker, former US secretary of state, said BP management had failed to implement process safety as a core value across its five US refineries.

"BP has emphasized personal safety in recent years and has achieved significant improvement in personal safety performance, but BP did not emphasize process safety. BP mistakenly interpreted improving personal injury rates as an indication of acceptable process safety performance at its US refineries," the report concluded.

Employees working at BP refineries in Texas City; Toledo, Ohio; and Whiting, Ind. did not feel comfortable about communicating with management about safety issues, according to the panel, which said safety culture appears to be improving at Texas City and Whiting.

Neither did BP ensure that there were sufficient resources to underpin a strong process safety performance, the report added, stating, "BP does not have a designated, high-ranking leader for process safety dedicated to its refining business."

The panel was unable to conclude whether BP had problems with its safety culture because of cost-cutting. "BP tended to have a short-term focus, and its decentralized management system and
entrepreneurial culture have delegated substantial discretion to US refinery plant managers without clearly defining process safety expectations, responsibilities, or accountabilities," the panel wrote.

The report also criticized the company's delay in adopting engineering practices that could otherwise improve safety culture. BP's accident was the worst in US industrial history for the past 2 decades, but the US refining industry has lower accident rates than US manufacturing, the American Petroleum Institute said. In 2004, the rate of job-related injuries and illnesses for US petroleum refinery workers, as compiled by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration, was 1.5 for every 100 full-time employees, compared with a rate of 6.6 for all US manufacturing employees.

John Browne, the chief executive of BP who last week announced a surprise early retirement from the role in July, denied cost-cutting was responsible for the failings. Browne has insisted that his departure is not related to the report.

A Citigroup research analyst note said Tony Hayward, Browne's successor, will need to focus on making changes in the company following the Baker report, rebuild BP's US reputation, safeguard TNK-BP's assets, deliver on growth, and restore market confidence in BP.

BP has committed to implementing the report's recommendations and has initiated some measures which include:

-- Creating a senior executive team to support and oversee process safety, integrity management, and operational integrity initiatives.

-- Forming a Safety and Operations division to establish group operations and process safety standards and auditing safety and operations performance.

-- Empowering the chairman and president of BP America to monitor BP's US operations and compliance with regulatory requirements and company standards and to rectify problems when they are identified.

-- Appointing retired federal Judge Stanley Sporkin to receive, investigate, and resolve concerns raised by BP staff and contract workers in the US.

-- Investing $1.7 billion/year during 2007-10 to improve the integrity and reliability of refining assets in the US. The company spent $1.2 billion in 2005.

Contact Uchenna Izundu at uchennai@pennwell.com.

Related Articles

WAFWA: Aerial survey finds lesser prairie chicken population grew

07/06/2015 A recent range-wide aerial survey found the lesser prairie chicken population rose 25% from 2014 to 2015, the Western Association of Fish & Wil...

South Africa’s Enref refinery due maintenance

07/06/2015 Engen Petroleum Ltd. will shut down its 125,000-b/d Enref refinery in Durban, South Africa, for planned maintenance beginning on July 9, the compan...

Buru awarded onshore Canning licenses

07/06/2015 Buru Energy Ltd., Perth, and Mitsubish Corp. have been granted two production licenses for Ungani oil field in the onshore Canning basin of Western...

Cenovus sells royalty business for $3.3 billion

07/06/2015 Cenovus Energy Inc., Calgary, inked an agreement to sell its wholly owned subsidiary Heritage Royalty LP to Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan for gros...

CERI: Energy, operational efficiencies possible in Canadian oil, gas

07/06/2015 Measures can be taken by operators in the expanding resource-intensive Canadian oil and gas sector to improve both energy efficiency and operationa...

AGL Energy to scale back upstream gas operations

07/06/2015

Gas retailer AGL Energy Ltd., Sydney, says it will exit the oil business and massively scaling back its upstream gas operations.

Macondo settlement seen ‘positive’ for BP

07/06/2015 BP Exploration & Production Inc.’s recent agreement to settle federal and state claims related to the 2010 Macondo blowout and spill improves t...

Nelson-Farrar Quarterly Costimating Indexes for selected equipment items

07/06/2015 The Nelson-Farrar refinery construction index rose to 2,475.6 by December 2012 from 2,467.4 in January of the same year. The index continued to ris...

The price of oil and OPEC-history repeating?

07/06/2015 The world oil market today is characterized by a standoff between the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC producers a...
White Papers

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts


OGJ's Midyear Forecast 2015

When Fri, Jul 10, 2015

This webcast is to be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and Senior Economic Editor Conglin Xu.  They will summarize the Midyear Forecast projections in key categories, note important changes from January’s forecasts, and examine reasons for the adjustments.

register:WEBCAST


Predictive Analytics in your digital oilfield - Optimize Production Yield and Reduce Operational Costs

When Tue, Jul 7, 2015

Putting predictive analytics to work in your oilfield can help you anticipate failures, plan and schedule work in advance, eliminate emergency work and catastrophic failures, and at the same time you can optimize working capital and improve resource utilization.  When you apply analytic capabilities to critical production assets it is possible to reduce non-productive time and increase your yield.

Learn how IBM's analytics capabilities can be applied to critical production assets with the goal of reducing non-productive time, increasing yield and reducing operations costs.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Cognitive Solutions for Upstream Oil and Gas

Fri, Jun 12, 2015

The oil & gas sector is under pressure on all sides. Reserves are limited and it’s becoming increasingly expensive to find and extract new resources. Margins are already being squeezed in an industry where one wrong decision can cost millions. Analyzing data used in energy exploration can save millions of dollars as we develop ways to predict where and how to extract the world’s massive energy reserves.

This session with IBM Subject Matter Experts will discuss how IBM Cognitive Solutions contribute to the oil and gas industry using predictive analytics and cognitive computing, as well as real time streaming for exploration and drilling.

register:WEBCAST


The Alternative Fuel Movement: Four Need-to-Know Excise Tax Complexities

Thu, Jun 4, 2015

Discussion on how to approach, and ultimately embrace, the alternative fuel market by pulling back the veil on excise tax complexities. Taxes may be an aggravating part of daily operations, but their accuracy is crucial in your path towards business success.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected