Despite hard work and distinct advances in offshore safety since the 2010 Macondo disaster, there is little disagreement that more work is required in the Gulf of Mexico, with neither industry nor regulators planning to rest on their laurels, writes Kathrine Schmidt.
The US Bureau of Safety & Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) plans to focus on more areas, including safety during the production process, with subsea systems and personnel safety for crane lifts and helidecks, said agency director Brian Salerno.
Meanwhile, the industry-backed Centre for Offshore Safety (COS) has completed its first review of safety and environmental management systems data from operators, designed to identify trends and common issues across the group’s membership.
The review of deep-water operations of top Gulf of Mexico players in 2013 cheered the milestone of recording no fatalities, no incidents resulting in five or more injuries and no oil spills of more than 238 barrels.
“America’s offshore oil and natural gas industry is even safer than before, but our goal will always be zero accidents and zero spills,” said COS executive director Charlie Williams.
The analysis covered data from 13 major operators, six top drilling contractors and five major service companies in deep waters.
However, BSEE statistics show more work remains to be done when the US Gulf is considered as a whole.
The Macondo disaster on 20 April 2010 claimed 11 lives. The four years following the spill saw another 11 lives lost in total – three in 2011, four in 2012, three in 2013 and one in 2014, according to agency data.
Over the same period, the US Gulf recorded 273 injuries in 2010, a figure that dropped to 213 in 2011 but was up again to 244 by 2014.
In 2014 overall, there were seven well-control incidents, 105 fires and explosions and 12 collisions in the US Gulf.