Texas A&M center to manage Ocean Energy Safety Institute

The US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has selected a Texas A&M University center to manage the Ocean Energy Safety Institute (OESI), a cooperative program promoting safety and environmental protection in offshore exploration, drilling, and production (OGJ Online, May 31, 2013).

Under a 5-year agreement with $5 million in funding from BSEE, the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station’s Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center will manage the OESI in partnership with Texas A&M, the University of Texas, and the University of Houston.

The OESI will provide recommendations and technical assistance to BSEE related to emerging technologies and best available and safest technologies (BAST), develop and maintain an equipment-failure monitoring system, and train federal employees in state-of-the-art technology.

It is being created at the recommendation of the Ocean Energy Safety Advisory Committee, which was formed in 2011 by the Department of the Interior in response to the fatal Macondo blowout and spill in the Gulf of Mexico. BSEE is an Interior Department agency.

OESI’s objectives

Specific objectives of the OESI are:

• Develop a program of research, technical assistance, and education to serve as a center of expertise in offshore oil and gas exploration, development, and production technology, including technology specific to deepwater and Arctic exploration and development.

• Provide recommendations and technical assistance to the BSEE and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) related to emerging technologies and the determination of BAST and environmentally sound oil and gas development practices on the Outer Continental Shelf.

• Provide recommendations and technical assistance related to geological and geophysical sciences relevant to understanding the technical challenges of exploration and development, such as reservoir characteristics, geohazards, and worst-case discharge analyses.

• Develop and maintain a domestic and international equipment-failure reporting system and database of critical equipment failures related to well control that will allow the OESI to identify reliability issues and industry trends, engaging equipment users and manufacturers.

• Involve federal employees in research and training to keep them current on technology associated with offshore oil and gas development.

• Promote collaboration among federal agencies, industry, standards organizations, academia, and the NAS.

• Provide BSEE with quarterly and annual reports on all OESI activities.

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