API: Offshore drilling safer than ever

Advances in technology, standards and practices in the last five years have made America’s offshore oil and natural gas industry safer than ever, American Petroleum Institute’s (API) President and CEO Jack Gerard.

“Our goal is zero accidents and zero spills,” said Gerard. “Our daily commitment is one of constant improvement until that goal becomes reality. The millions of men and women who work in our industry – and all Americans whose lives are powered by oil and natural gas – deserve no less.”

Gerard highlighted a number of actions the industry has taken, which began immediately after the Macondo incident in 2010 with a comprehensive review of existing practices to improve accident prevention, intervention and response.

“The industry’s overall safety record was strong before Macondo, and the co-chairs of President Obama’s national spill commission were absolutely right when they said that offshore drilling is now even safer,” said Gerard. “We will continue to build on these achievements because our goal is zero accidents and zero spills.”

Since 2010, API has published more than 100 new and revised industry standards for safe exploration and production. The Center for Offshore Safety, created in 2011, works to share best practices and help companies build enhanced safety programs, which are based on an API standard and now required by federal regulation.

“Producing more oil and natural gas here at home has not only grown our economy,” said Gerard. “It has strengthened our national security and made the U.S. a world leader in energy. One thing makes all of this possible: the ability to develop our energy resources safely and responsibly.”

Center for Offshore Safety last week published its annual report for 2013. Key findings of the report include:

  • On average, 96 percent of planned critical maintenance, inspections and testing were performed on schedule
  • All eligible COS members successfully completed audits of their Safety and Environmental Management Systems
  • COS participating members did not suffer a single fatality or loss of well control during more than 42 million work hours in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico

Data published in the Center for Offshore Safety’s (COS) Annual Performance Report for the 2013 Reporting Year are based on data voluntarily reported by exploration and production Operators and Contractors operating in the United States.

As always, there is room for making things better. The top three areas COS has identified for further improvement are:

  • Safe mechanical lifting, such as the use of cranes and hoists
  • Process safety, with emphasis on risk management and maintenance, inspection and testing
  • Effectiveness of and adherence to operating procedures and safe work practices, particularly the quality of work plans and preparation
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