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

Shell cuts $15 billion in spending for 2015-17

01/30/2015 Royal Dutch Shell PLC has curtailed more than $15 billion in potential spending over the next 3 years, but is not “not overreacting to current low ...

Victoria extends drilling, fracing ban

01/30/2015 The new Victorian Labor government of premier Daniel Andrews has extended the coal seam gas (CSG) exploration and hydraulic fracturing ban in the s...

Chevron’s $35 billion capital budget down 13% from last year

01/30/2015 Chevron Corp. will allocate $35 billion in its capital and exploratory investment program for 2015, including $4 billion of planned expenditures by...

US Senate passes bill approving Keystone XL pipeline project

01/30/2015 The US Senate has passed a bill approving construction of the proposed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline by a 62-36 vote after 3 weeks of debate. Nine...

Oxy cuts capital budget by a third

01/30/2015 In the midst of falling oil prices, Occidental Petroleum Corp., Houston, expects to reduce its total capital spending for 2015 to $5.8 billion from...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX natural gas prices drop after storage report

01/30/2015 US natural gas closed at its lowest price in more than 2 years on the New York market Jan. 29 following the government’s weekly gas storage report,...

Pennsylvania governor reinstates state forest drilling moratorium

01/29/2015 Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed an executive order fully reinstating a 2010 moratorium on new oil and gas leases in state forests and parks. ...

PwC: Low oil prices might drive surge in restructuring in 2015

01/29/2015 Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the oil and gas industry hit 10-year highs in terms of deal value and volume in 2014, according to a report f...

DOE could meet 45-day LNG export decision deadline, Senate panel told

01/29/2015 The US Department of Energy would have no trouble meeting a 45-day deadline to reach a national interest determination for proposed LNG export faci...
White Papers

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

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
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


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