Joint Industry Task Forces Present Preliminary Findings to BOEMRE

 

           

For Immediate Release:                                                                   Contact:  Nicolette Nye

Tuesday, September 7, 2010                                                              (202) 347-6900          

 

Joint Industry Task Forces Present Preliminary Findings to BOEMRE

 

WASHINGTON, DC – Two joint industry task forces have released their initial reports on lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon spill and recommendations to improve spill response and containment moving forward.  The Joint Industry Oil Spill Preparedness and Response Task Force and the Joint Industry Subsea Well Control and Containment Task Force presented their findings today in Houston during a fact finding forum hosted by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE). 

 

“The offshore energy industry has stepped up to the plate in response to the Deepwater Horizon tragedy,” said Randall Luthi, president of the National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA). “This report is an indication of the tremendous effort and cooperation among industry and their trade organizations in response to the accident. It shines a light on the path forward, but it is not the end of the journey. Continued study, evaluation and financial resources are part of the recommendations,” said Luthi, who first announced plans for the formation of industry task forces to examine the response to the spill, while testifying before Congress on May 27, 2010.  

 

The task forces are comprised of members from oil and gas industry trade groups including NOIA, the American Petroleum Institute (API), the United States Oil and Gas Association (USOGA), the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC). 

 

Jay Collins, President and CEO of Oceaneering International and former NOIA Chairman, is co-chairing the Oil Spill Preparedness and Response Task Force with Keith Robson, Manager of Corporate Safety, Security, and Emergency Preparedness for Marathon Oil Company. Consisting of 60 members from 30 companies, this task force is examining spill response plans, oil sensing and tracking, dispersant use and application, in situ burning, mechanical recovery capabilities, shoreline protection and cleanup and alternative response technologies.

 

The preliminary findings of the Oil Spill Preparedness and Response Task Force indicate that due to the actions of many, only a fraction of the nearly 5 million barrels of oil and gas released at the Macondo well site actually reached shore, but that doesn’t mean improvements in response and containment technology and methods are not necessary.

 

The use of dispersants proved to be a major tool in preventing oil from reaching shore, and the task force recommends more education concerning the use of dispersants, and continued research and development to improve and target the use of dispersants.

 

 

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The task force also found that mechanical recovery methods, such as skimmers and vacuums, typically result in a fairly low percentage of recovered oil.  While incremental improvements have been made over the last generation, continued research and development, particularly concerning increased storage capacity, is encouraged.

 

In situ burning proved to be a very useful arrow in the response quiver, but the task force recommends more research in fire boom design, pre-staging of fire boom and increased education and cooperation from regulatory agencies to shorten the time frame for approval of in situ burning.

 

One of the key factors in responding to an oil spill is knowing where the oil is located.  While the task force noted the great advances that have been made in oil observation, scanning and sensing of oil, it recommends further research and development for advancing technologies in surface and subsurface oil sensing and tracking (i.e. satellites, modeling, sonar, high frequency radio wave methods, and laser fluorosensors.)  Ranking of research and development projects and identification of potential funding of those projects is also recommended by the task force.  Potential sources of funding include industry, both as individual companies or as joint efforts, state and federal governments, and research institutions.

 

Response plans in place at the time of the Macondo well accident received a great deal of attention by the press and Congress. The task force found that, in order to meet federal requirements, industry response plans were often very similar. Recommendations include additional information in response plans to address worst case discharges, better identification and use of potential available resources and additional training and availability of specifically trained personnel in spill response management.

 

The Subsea Well Control and Containment Task Force is chaired by Charlie Williams of Shell and has over 30 participants representing over 20 organizations. This task force is examining subsea intervention and containment on a well following a BOP failure or failure allowing flow outside of the casing at the wellhead.

 

This task force focused in the areas of well containment at the seafloor, intervention and containment within the subsea well, subsea collection and surface processing and storage, continuing research and development, and relief wells.  The task force identified 29 recommendations including that industry must: own/provide containment technology and capability, develop capability to remove lower marine riser platform (LMRP) from blowout preventer (BOP) using a surface intervention vessel and remotely operated vehicle (ROV), develop new methods to release LMRP without riser tension, develop capability to remove damaged BOP for installation of new BOP in special situations, and develop capability to regain full functionality of BOP stack.

 

The preliminary report will provide invaluable information to the Presidential Commission investigating the Deepwater Horizon accident, the Administration, Congress and the American public.  The reports can be viewed in their entirety on the NOIA website at www.noia.org.

 

Luthi cautioned that the significance of the report must not be overshadowed by the Mariner non-production related accident.  “Critics of offshore energy production are attempting to use this fire to stoke unreasonable and unfounded fears of environmental and worker safety,” he said.  “Unfortunately, industrial accidents happen. Whether big or small, it is important to thoroughly investigate each accident and take corrective actions, including disciplinary actions, if warranted.”

 

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NOIA is the only national trade association representing all segments of the offshore industry with an interest in the exploration and production of both traditional and renewable energy resources on the nation’s outer continental shelf.  The NOIA membership comprises more than 250 companies engaged in business activities ranging from producing to drilling, engineering to marine and air transport, offshore construction to equipment manufacture and supply, telecommunications to finance and insurance.