OTC: Operators assess advances in offshore drilling risk management

Recent advances in managing human and environmental risks associated with drilling and production operations in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico were brought into sharp focus for delegates attending a panel discussion Apr. 30 at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston. Many of the panelists echoed one other, saying that the events surrounding the April 2010 Macondo deepwater well blowout and subsequent rig explosion and oil spill brought together industry’s best and brightest to improve regulations and safety, and therefore, reduce some of the risk in operating in the deep and ultradeep water.

Risk management in the deep water can be subdivided into three simple elements: incident prevention, incident intervention and containment, and incident response, explained Steve Thurston, Chevron Corp. vice-president, exploration and production. Comparing these elements to the legs of a stool, Thurston noted that all three are required for the stool to function properly. “But first and foremost,” he asserted, “the focus must be on prevention,” with the objective to put incident intervention and incident response at the company’s ready.

Thurston noted that the process starts with “a shared and unwavering commitment” to what Chevron refers to as “operational excellence,” or “OE,” which the supermajor has been developing for 30 years. “Our employees and our business partners don’t get to the jobsite without this shared commitment to OE,” he said.

Thurston said when it comes to incident prevention, the key lies in excellence in planning, design, and execution. To do this, Chevron deploys two things: “the right people and the right processes.”

Following the Macondo disaster, the federal government mandated that all companies operating offshore must conduct their business under the safety environment management system, or SEMS. In July 2010, Chevron partnered with three other majors—ExxonMobil Corp., ConocoPhillips, and Royal Dutch Shell PLC—to form Marine Well Containment Co. (MWCC), a not-for-profit, independent company based in Houston that provides well-containment equipment and technology for use in the US gulf. MWCC recognized in those early months after the event that there existed the need for operators to be better prepared in the event a potentially catastrophic event such as Macondo.

“Since Macondo, industry has come together significantly to increase the capability and capacity for incident containment and incident response,” Thurston noted.

He concluded with two thoughts on risk-management and deepwater operations: “First, it’s all about raising the standards of all operators and business partners to ensure the prevention of incidents and secondly, it’s about the industry developing large-scale containment and spill-response capacity that is commensurate with the scale and scope of the deepwater business in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Another panelist, representing Talisman Energy Inc., noted that while the Calgary-based independent doesn’t operate in the Gulf of Mexico, it still faces similar risk-management issues while operating offshore Malaysia, Norway, and Indonesia, among other areas.

Kevin Lacy, Talisman senior vice-president, drilling, posed a question to the OTC panel audience: Is drilling in the deep water getting riskier? Lacy then layered a second question: “Is being a passenger on a commercial aircraft risky?”

He then answered rhetorically, “I think most of us think, ‘probably not.’ Yet the statistics as far as airplane crashes go, a crash is actually higher than the probability of a blowout incident in the gulf.”

What gives most people that “sense of comfort,” he explained, is that there are high standards for the airline industry, and extensive training for its pilots, flight crew, and maintenance workers.

He said it all comes down to the “three Cs.”: conditions, competency, and complexity. Since offshore drilling conditions and complexity of wells have increased risk, competency of workers must rise to offset the unbalance, he said. “The business leadership must understand risks, and the technical leadership must communicate these risks effectively.”

All panelists agreed that building a strong corporate culture was extremely important for a company’s success. “It’s what drives the workforce,” Chevron’s Thurston said, adding, “Culture sets the tone.”

Contact Steven Poruban at stevenp@ogjonline.com.

Related Articles

Obama’s proposed fiscal 2016 budget recycles oil tax increases

02/02/2015 US President Barack Obama has proposed his federal budget for fiscal 2016 that he said was designed to help a beleaguered middle class take advanta...

MOL absorbs Eni’s Romanian retail assets

02/02/2015

MOL Group, Budapest, has completed the acquisition of Eni Romania, including 42 service stations to be rebranded under the MOL name.

CNOOC subsidiary inks deal for grassroots refinery

02/02/2015 Hebei Zhongjie Petrochemical Group Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC), has entered into a $700 million agreement w...

Pessimism mounts over UK offshore industry

02/02/2015

Pessimism about the UK offshore oil and gas industry is gaining momentum.

EnLink agrees to purchase Coronado Midstream for $600 million

02/02/2015 EnLink Midstream has agreed to acquire Coronado Midstream Holdings LLC, which owns natural gas gathering and processing facilities in the Permian b...

Antero trimming, delaying Marcellus drilling

02/02/2015 Antero Resources Corp., Denver, has announced a $1.8 billion budget for 2015, which is down 41% from 2014. The independent said it plans to defer c...

Woodside gets NEB approval for British Columbia LNG exports

02/02/2015 Woodside Energy Holdings Pty. Ltd. has received approval from Canada’s National Energy Board on its application for a 25-year natural gas export li...

Syncrude sees additional $260-400 million in possible budget cuts

02/02/2015 The estimate for capital expenditures has also been reduced to $451 million net to COS, which includes $104 million of remaining expenditures on ma...

Kerry expects to receive other agencies’ Keystone XL reports soon

02/02/2015 US Sec. of State John F. Kerry said he expects to receive other federal agencies and departments’ reports soon on the proposed Keystone XL crude oi...
White Papers

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...

6 ways for Energy, Chemical and Oil and Gas Companies to Avert the Impending Workforce Crisis

As many as half of the skilled workers in energy, chemical and oil & gas industries are quickly he...
Sponsored by
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


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