Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Director James Watson and Acting Assistant Secretary for Lands and Minerals Management Tommy Beaudreau convened a meeting today in Houston, Texas, with senior executives from the offshore oil and gas industry to continue the dialogue on improving safety in offshore operations, particularly in shallow water in the Gulf of Mexico.
The meeting follows three loss of well control incidents in shallow water operations since February. All three incidents resulted in no significant injuries or pollution, but a November 2012 explosion that occurred during maintenance activities claimed the lives of three workers.
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell joined the meeting by video teleconference to reinforce the Administration’s strong commitment to safe and responsible domestic energy production.
“The Department of the Interior has implemented the most aggressive and comprehensive offshore oil and gas regulatory reforms in the nation’s history following the tragic Deepwater Horizon incident,” said Secretary Jewell. “These recent incidents underscore the inherent risk in offshore operations and the need for everyone – from the chief executive officer to the roustabout – to make safety his or her number one priority.”
Acting Assistant Secretary Beaudreau discussed the need for sharing lessons learned and best practices as a way to help refocus industry efforts to improve safety.
“In the latest incident, 44 workers were safely evacuated without any injuries. That is remarkable, and we are all very grateful the workers made it to safety,” said Beaudreau. “While BSEE investigates the causes of these specific incidents, there are practices relating to the drilling operations, well control and contingency plans that companies must share with each other to protect workers and the environment.”
The Department of the Interior leaders also discussed the importance of operator oversight of contract work being performed on offshore facilities, the need to monitor and act more proactively when there is an indication of a problem and the importance of compliance with regulations.
“While many consider shallow water operations to be less technically challenging in many cases than those occurring in deepwater, they are not without risk, and the industry must not become complacent,” said Director Watson. “Offshore workers need to be empowered to take actions to save lives when they see a leading indicator that something is wrong.”