API: Industry made strides in offshore safety since Macondo

The American Petroleum Institute asked the US Chemical Safety Board to consider what API calls industry’s progress on offshore safety since the Apr. 20, 2010, deepwater Macondo well blowout and massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Holly Hopkins, API’s senior policy advisor in upstream and industry operations, prepared written comments that she planned to present verbally during a CSB June 5 public meeting in Houston.

“No incident is acceptable. Our industry takes every incident seriously,” Hopkins said. “Continued vigilance is essential in helping to prevent future incidents.”

She noted CSB’s Macondo report focused on the blowout preventer, saying CSB’s Volume 2 “fails to acknowledge the entire system and the systems-based approach that is essential for safe operations.”

CSB must recognize industry’s significant safety strides directly related to implementation of a systems-based approach if CSB is going to make recommendations beyond the BOP failure analysis technical findings, she said.

“Additionally, there are many comments throughout Volume 2 that compare the US and European regulatory approaches,” Hopkins said. “As API has stated in prior public comments, industry is fully committed to safe operations, both on and offshore.”

Industry standards and programs already call for third-party audits of drilling equipment, she said, adding CSB has not demonstrated how a safety-case regime will result in a higher level of safety in actual operations over a fully implemented, properly managed safety and environment management system described in API Recommended Practice 75.

“The oil and natural gas industry has methodically examined every aspect of offshore safety measures and operations to identify potential improvements in spill prevention, intervention, safety management, and response capabilities,” since the Macondo incident, Hopkins said.

API revised existing standards and created several new ones, including standards dealing with well design, cementing, blowout prevention, subsea equipment for capping wells and protections for oil spill response workers, she said.

The Center for Offshore Safety was created in 2011 to promote safety for offshore drilling, completions and operations. The US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement adopted three of the center's guidelines into its own regulations.

Industry and government are working together to improve offshore drilling safety and industry standards, she said.

Contact Paula Dittrick at paulad@ogjonline.com.

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