Letters: Energy industry committed to offshore safety

The Advocate | Charlie Williams | March 17, 2019

As you stated in your recent editorial, “Lessons from Deepwater Horizon disaster still resonate nearly a decade later,” next month marks the ninth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill off the coast of Louisiana. The accident left a deep imprint on all of us, particularly in the offshore industry. In the days, months and years since, much has been learned and much has changed to improve safety. Sweeping measures were taken to overhaul the industry’s capability to intervene and respond in case of an incident. To prevent incidents from happening in the first place, more than 100 standards have been created or strengthened for safety and environmental management, well design, blowout prevention and spill response — many drawing on lessons learned from Deepwater Horizon. The industry also launched the organization I head, the Center for Offshore Safety

The natural gas and oil industry is constantly evolving its standards and technologies to support our number one priority — the safety of our workers and the environment. We continuously evaluate and measure our own safety performance and focus on areas to further improve. Our industry has partnered with federal regulators and convened joint industry task forces to methodically examine every aspect of offshore operations to identify potential improvements in spill prevention, intervention, safety management and response capabilities. We’ve scrutinized all facets of the offshore drilling process from equipment and operating procedures to subsea well control and oil spill response, and we’ve developed new recommendations and standards that guide operations in both deep and shallow water exploration.

Offshore energy development is safer than ever thanks to these comprehensive efforts. Today’s exploration and production facilities leverage advanced technologies, materials and practices such as advanced well containment systems and response equipment to minimize incidents. The U.S. has established one of the world’s most sophisticated and well-coordinated spill response networks that can respond quickly to incidents and equipment failures.

The Center for Offshore Safety was created shortly after the Deepwater Horizon incident to promote the highest level of safety for offshore drilling, completions and operations. Fully dedicated to safety management and safety culture as recommended in the Presidential Commission report, the center works with independent third-party auditors and government regulators to reinforce the industry’s safety culture, support good safety management audit tools and audit practices and ensure operational safety standards are communicated throughout the industry. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has already adopted three of the center’s guidelines into its own regulations.

Read the full op-ed here.