Seven years after BP Gulf of Mexico disaster, Scotland-based global safety body tells US oil and gas sector to ‘get in line’ with industry best practice

 Albert Skiba and Richard Edwards
Albert Skiba and Richard Edwards

The Aberdeen-based global safety and standards body for the oil industry, has called on the US oil and gas sector to fully embrace common industry standards to help build a stronger safety culture across the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) in line with other areas in the world.

OPITO, the standards and workforce development organisation wants the US industry in general and the Gulf of Mexico basin in particular, to fall into line on safety standards with other areas around the world.

Speaking at the OTC conference during a technical session on approaches to improving health, safety, and environment performance, Albert Skiba, OPITO vice-president for Gulf of Mexico, and approvals manager Richard Edwards highlighted that on average, 80% of accidents in the offshore oil and gas sector are the result of human error.

They said: “Added into the mix that since the downturn – with approximately 350,000 job losses – the oil and gas industry has globally become more diverse and therefore the need for consistency in workforce safety is greater.

They also highlighted the need for OPITO’s International Offshore Emergency Response Framework to be implemented in the Gulf of Mexico to ensure personnel are equipped to react in the same way when life threatening situations occur.

In 2010, 11 workers died in the Deepwater Horizon oil rig blow out in the Gulf of Mexico – which also nearly bankrupted BP.

BP Deepwater Horizon spill map
BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill map

Skiba added: “In a post-Macondo <BP’s Deepwater Horizon> world, the Gulf of Mexico has been vigilant in developing programs to improve the safety of the drilling and completion process.

“But the industry has not applied the same due diligence to implementing common standards to keep its workers safe and competent. Employers need to provide clarity so personnel know what is expected from them when operating across borders and in partnership with other organisations.

“Despite the Gullf of Mexico being amongst the most developed regions in the world, it is yet to take up the OPITO framework which has been widely adopted by 45 oil and gas producing regions internationally.

“These common standards show how the competency of personnel in emergency response situations can be developed, demonstrated and maintained. As an industry, we have to be proactive rather than reactive to incidents and head any off potential problems at the pass.

“A pan-industry approach is the only way to ensure this is addressed so employees know exactly what to do and all react in the same way when an incident occurs. After all, every worker deserves to get to work and return home safely.”

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