U.S. offshore safety regulator to implement risk-based inspection program

The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) will begin the implementation of a new risk-based inspection program later this month.

The BSEE said on Monday that the program employs a systematic framework to identify facilities and operations that exhibit a high-risk profile.

The risk-based inspections supplement BSEE’s existing National Safety Inspection Program. The OCS Lands Act authorizes BSEE to conduct annual scheduled inspections and periodic unannounced inspections of all oil and gas operations.

According to the BSEE, the new risk-based inspection protocol looks beyond compliance and assesses the integrity of critical safety systems on facilities and operations which had multiple incidents of non-compliance or events and may need more attention.

Jason Mathews, chief of BSEE’s Gulf of Mexico region safety management office, said: “We developed this program to address areas where trends in compliance and incident data suggest the potential for imminent safety concerns.”

Inspection findings and incident reports are used by BSEE to assign a risk factor score to each production facility in the Gulf of Mexico.

The risk factor score is based on specific performance and risk-related information that falls into two types of risk-based inspections: facility-based and performance-based. Based on analysis of this information, BSEE prioritized the areas that require follow-up under the risk-based inspection protocols.

The implementation of this program demonstrates significant progress by BSEE over the past year. The previous administration was criticized for a slow pace in implementing such a program from 2011-2016. The BSEE said that the current administration was focused on making this kind of program a priority.

Risk-based inspections will allow the BSEE to focus on compliance issues and reduce the likelihood of incidents across the Gulf of Mexico region on a continuous basis. The first risk-based inspections will focus on crane operations and will begin this month.

“Our inspectors are the eyes and ears of what’s happening offshore at any given time. Without them, my team would never be able to do their analysis. Together, we strive for continuous improvement so that offshore energy operations are safe for workers and the environment,” added Mathews.