OTC: BSEE director calls for industry to promote safety culture

The industry needs to internalize a robust safety culture to help the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement do its job, BSEE Director James A. Watson told delegates Apr. 30 at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston.

“Our ability to ensure the highest level of safety and responsibility in the world depends in large part on the ability of the industry to internalize the need for a robust safety culture; to understand that safety does not simply mean doing things right when the BSEE inspector is on board. It means operating safely at all levels at all times,” Watson said.

Since the Apr. 20, 2010, blowout of the deepwater Macondo well off Louisiana and subsequent explosion on the Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible drilling rig, the US government imposed new regulations and reorganized the former US Marine Mineral Services.

BP PLC operated the Macondo well. Watson told industry it must never forget the 11 crew members who were killed and the massive oil spill that resulted in the Gulf of Mexico.

“We have built a strong, effective regulatory program that has become a model for developed and emerging regulators around the world,” he said.

In particular, Watson referred to the a drilling safety rule, issued as an  emergency rule, that implemented higher standards for well design, casing and cementing practices, and blowout preventers, among other new safety requirements.

He also cited the workplace safety rule, which implemented performance-based standards, requiring companies to implement and maintain safety and environmental management system programs.

“The oil and gas industry has responded—creating from scratch and deploying subsea containment technologies and capabilities, building more robust response capabilities, and meeting the new regulatory requirements,” in the Gulf of Mexico, he said.

Noting he was pleased to hear about rising rig counts in the gulf, Watson added that he is “cautious about the potential for this increased activity to increase the risks associated with offshore drilling.”

He said regulators must continue to adapt to keep pace with industry as it adopts rapidly advancing technologies.

BSEE making changes

BSEE has been working to improve its own efficiency, and this has included hiring 28 engineers and 46 inspectors in 2 years. BSEE looks to hire another 200 people to conduct permit and spill response plan reviews, inspect offshore facilities, and ensure environmental compliance.

“I am very pleased that we recently received approval to pay employees in critical career fields, such as petroleum engineering, up to 25% above the federal salary schedule,” Watson said.

“Hiring that we do now does not automatically translate into more inspections and more permit reviews immediately,” Watson said. “However, the investments we are making now in time and training will ensure we are able to keep pace with the increasing activity…and continue to reduce risks and promote safety.”

He said much attention has been focused on the number of drilling permits and the number of incidents of noncompliance (INC) issued since the Deepwater Horizon incident.

Watson said it’s not BSEE’s goal to approve a certain number of permits or issue a certain number of INCs.

“Rather, we must use our full suite of authorities and resources, employing both prescriptive and performance based standards to instill safe practices at all levels, at all times,” he said. “And, I want to be clear: that firm hand, the actual enforcement actions such as INCs or civil penalties, will continue to be applied when appropriate.”

Although BSEE’s predecessor chose not to exercise its authority to hold contractors accountable, Watson said BSEE will enforce regulations in every case, and will issue INCs or civil penalties as appropriate.

“We will do this in a measured and consistent way, and with consideration to all the factors contributing to the violation, but we will not turn away from exercising our full authority,” he said.

One of BSEE’s responsibilities is to issue clearly defined, meaningful regulations, he said. The agency is working on a draft rule to update oil and gas production safety systems regulations, which have not had a major revision since 1988.

“Since that time, production has moved into deeper and deeper water, and regulations have simply not kept pace with technological advances,” Watson said. “These revisions will provide BSEE a powerful regulatory tool that can be used in the future to incorporate new technologies into the program.”

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjoinline.com.

Related Articles

EPA approves Magellan’s Corpus Christi splitter project

12/12/2014 The US Environmental Protection Agency has issued a final greenhouse gas prevention of significant deterioration construction permit to Magellan Pr...

Keyera to take majority interest in Alberta gas plant

12/12/2014 Keyera Corp., Calgary, will pay $65 million (Can.) to buy a 70.79% ownership interest in the Ricinus deep-cut gas plant in west-central Alberta.

PBF Energy, PBF Logistics make management changes

12/12/2014 Matthew Lucey, currently executive vice-president of PBF Energy Inc., will succeed Michael Gayda as the company’s president. Todd O’Malley, current...

TAEP: TPI still peaking, but ‘contraction unavoidable’ as oil prices fall

12/12/2014 The Texas Petro Index (TPI), a composite index based on a comprehensive group of upstream economic indicators released by the Texas Alliance of Ene...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude oil price extends slump

12/12/2014 Crude oil prices extended their slump on the New York market with a Dec. 11 settlement of less than $60/bbl for January, and prices continued downw...

US needs more data before ending crude export ban, House panel told

12/11/2014 Much more environmental impact information is needed before the US can reasonably remove crude oil export limits, a witness told a House Energy and...

BOEM raises offshore oil spill liability limit to $134 million

12/11/2014 The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management increased the liability limit for oil-spill related damages from offshore operations to $134 million from ...

Rosneft, Essar sign terms of oil supply agreement

12/11/2014 OAO Rosneft and Essar Energy PLC have signed key terms of an oil supply agreement in New Delhi. Rosneft said shipments to India may begin in 2015.

Barton introduces bill to remove US crude export limits

12/11/2014

US Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) introduced legislation that would remove US crude oil export limits that have been in place for nearly 40 years.

White Papers

AVEVA NET Accesses and Manages the Digital Asset

Global demand for new process plants, power plants and infrastructure is increasing steadily with the ...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Approach for the Digital Asset

To meet the requirements for leaner project execution and more efficient operations while transferring...
Sponsored by

Diversification - the technology aspects

In tough times, businesses seek to diversify into adjacent markets or to apply their skills and resour...
Sponsored by

Engineering & Design for Lean Construction

Modern marketing rhetoric claims that, in order to cut out expensive costs and reduce risks during the...
Sponsored by

Object Lessons - Why control of engineering design at the object level is essential for efficient project execution

Whatever the task, there is usually only one way to do it right and many more to do it wrong. In the c...
Sponsored by

Plant Design for Lean Construction - at your fingertips

One area which can provide improvements to the adoption of Lean principles is the application of mobil...
Sponsored by

How to Keep Your Mud System Vibrator Hose from Getting Hammered to Death

To prevent the vibrating hoses on your oilfield mud circulation systems from failing, you must examine...
Sponsored by

Duty of Care

Good corporate social responsibility means implementing effective workplace health and safety measures...
Sponsored by

Available Webcasts


On Demand

Optimizing your asset management practices to mitigate the effects of a down market

Thu, Dec 11, 2014

The oil and gas market is in constant flux, and as the price of BOE (Barrel of Oil Equivalent) goes down it is increasingly important to optimize your asset management strategy to stay afloat.  Attend this webinar to learn how developing a solid asset management plan can help your company mitigate costs in any market.

register:WEBCAST


Parylene Conformal Coatings for the Oil & Gas Industry

Thu, Nov 20, 2014

In this concise 30-minute webinar, participants have an opportunity to learn more about how Parylene coatings are applied, their features, and the value they add to devices and components.

register:WEBCAST


Utilizing Predictive Analytics to Optimize Productivity in Oil & Gas Operations

Tue, Nov 18, 2014

Join IBM on Tuesday, November 18 @ 1pm CST to explore how Predictive Analytics can help your organization maximize productivity, operational performance & associated processes to drive enterprise wide productivity and profitability.

register:WEBCAST


US HYDROCARBON EXPORTS Part 3 — LNG

Fri, Nov 14, 2014

US LNG Exports, the third in a trilogy of webcasts focusing on the broad topic of US Hydrocarbon Exports.

A discussion of the problems and potential for the export of US-produced liquefied natural gas.

These and other topics will be discussed, with the latest thoughts on U.S. LNG export policy.

register:WEBCAST


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