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

Mangalore refinery reports steady operations following expansion

02/13/2015 Operations are proceeding smoothly at Mangalore Refinery & Petrochemicals Ltd.’s (MRPL) refinery in Mangalore, India, following the recent comp...

Omsk refinery hits target for Euro 5 diesel output

02/12/2015 JSC Gazprom Neft has switched to the exclusive production of Euro 5-standard diesel fuels at its 21.4 million-tonne/year Omsk refinery in Western S...

USW union workers add two BP refineries to strike list

02/09/2015 Union workers at two BP PLC-owned refineries in Indiana and Ohio have joined the United Steelworkers union’s (USW) unfair labor practice (ULP) stri...

Chevron details scheduled maintenance for Cape Town refinery

02/09/2015 Chevron South Africa (Pty.) Ltd., a subsidiary of Chevron Corp., has reported it will begin one of the biggest routine maintenance and safety inspe...

Union strike ongoing at US refineries as negotiations continue

02/06/2015 A strike by union workers at nine US refining and petrochemical production plants remains under way as the United Steelworkers Union (USW) continue...

Goodlatte reintroduces bills to repeal, reform RFS

02/05/2015 Calling it “a true ‘kitchen table’ issue,” US Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) reintroduced a pair of bills to address problems in the federal Renewable ...

Regulators approve Phillips 66’s California refinery improvement project

02/04/2015 The governing board of California’s Contra Costa County has approved a permit for Phillips 66 to move forward with a proposed project that would en...

CNOOC lets contract for Huizhou refinery expansion

02/03/2015 CNOOC Oil & Petrochemicals Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC), has let a contract to Porvair Filtration Group ...

Union strike under way at US refineries, petchem plants

02/02/2015 The United Steelworkers Union (USW) has instituted a strike at nine US refining and petrochemical production plants following a breakdown in negoti...
White Papers

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

The impact of aging infrastructure in process manufacturing industries

Process manufacturing companies in the oil and gas, utilities, chemicals and natural resource industri...
Sponsored by

What is System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis?

This paper will explain some of the fundamentals of System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis and demonstrate...

Accurate Thermo-Fluid Simulation in Real Time Environments

The crux of any task undertaken in System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis is striking a balance between ti...
Available Webcasts


Prevention, Detection and Mitigation of pipeline leaks in the modern world

When Thu, Apr 30, 2015

Preventing, detecting and mitigating leaks or commodity releases from pipelines are a top priority for all pipeline companies. This presentation will look at various aspects related to preventing, detecting and mitigating pipeline commodity releases from a generic and conceptual point of view, while at the same time look at the variety of offerings available from Schneider Electric to meet some of the requirements associated with pipeline integrity management. 

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Global LNG: Adjusting to New Realities

Fri, Mar 20, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s March 20, 2015, webcast will look at how global LNG trade will be affected over the next 12-24 months by falling crude oil prices and changing patterns and pressures of demand. Will US LNG production play a role in balancing markets? Or will it add to a growing global oversupply of LNG for markets remote from easier natural gas supply? Will new buyers with marginal credit, smaller requirements, or great need for flexibility begin to look attractive to suppliers? How will high-cost, mega-projects in Australia respond to new construction cost trends?

register:WEBCAST


US Midstream at a Crossroads

Fri, Mar 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Mar. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on US midstream companies at an inflection point in their development in response to more than 6 years shale oil and gas production growth. Major infrastructure—gas plants, gathering systems, and takeaway pipelines—have been built. Major fractionation hubs have expanded. Given the radically changed pricing environment since mid-2014, where do processors go from here? What is the fate of large projects caught in mid-development? How to producers and processors cooperate to ensure a sustainable and profitable future? This event will serve to set the discussion table for the annual GPA Convention in San Antonio, Apr. 13-16, 2015.

This event is sponsored by Leidos Engineering.

register:WEBCAST


The Future of US Refining

Fri, Feb 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Feb. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on the future of US refining as various forces this year conspire to pull the industry in different directions. Lower oil prices generally reduce feedstock costs, but they have also lowered refiners’ returns, as 2015 begins with refined products priced at lows not seen in years. If lower per-barrel crude prices dampen production of lighter crudes among shale plays, what will happen to refiners’ plans to export more barrels of lighter crudes? And as always, refiners will be affected by government regulations, particularly those that suppress demand, increase costs, or limit access to markets or supply.

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