US Coast Guard, offshore operators to meet Jan. 17 on security standards

Representatives of the US Coast Guard and offshore operators will meet in New Orleans Jan. 17 to establish a commission to set minimum security standards for Gulf of Mexico oil facilities. He said the Coast Guard wants the offshore oil industry to take the lead on the security issue.

By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, Dec. 6 -- Representatives of the US Coast Guard and offshore operators will meet in New Orleans Jan. 17 to establish a commission to set minimum security standards for Gulf of Mexico oil facilities.

Capt. Daniel Ryan, chief of marine safety for the Eighth Coast Guard District, New Orleans, said security concerns would be the first order of business for the proposed Gulf Safety Commission. He added, "There are other issues that need to be addressed later."

Ryan told an International Association of Drilling Contractors meeting in Houston Thursday that the Coast Guard wants the offshore oil industry to take the lead on the security issue.

"We won't have to be the top dog. We are willing to participate in an industry-led initiative. You (industry) can react a lot more quickly than we can."

In a preliminary meeting Nov. 7, the Coast Guard met with the Gulf of Mexico Offshore Operators Committee to discuss how to protect production facilities from terrorist attacks (OGJ Online, Sept. 28, 2001).

Ryan said there have been no specific threats against Gulf of Mexico oil and gas facilities. "The threat is unknown but the vulnerability (to terrorism) is high," he said.

Ryan said the terrorist attacks last September have permanently changed the Coast Guard's mission -- and have overtaxed its resources.

He said security of US ports, formerly a low priority for the Coast Guard, is now the top priority. Without revealing details, he said the Coast Guard has improved protections for ports and certain deepwater platforms.

He noted that the Coast Guard has quadrupled to 96 hr the advance notice that tankers and freighters ships must give to US port destinations.

The department is drafting regulations that include vessel and facility security plans, credentials for crew members and port workers, control of access to ports, improved vessel/terminal security, and requirements for the electronic location of vessels at sea.

He said Congress is considering expanding some US enforcement powers to the 12-mile limit and requiring shippers to provide advance information about US-bound cargoes to the US Customs Service.

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