Drilling Ahead

World Oilfield Forum

BSEE is a decade behind Norway's Petroleum Safety Authority

I attended the safety panel and presentations at OTC-2013 in the expectation of being able to write a report on the "Advances in Offshore Safety." Hmm. It hasn't worked out that way so far. 

The blow-out, explosions and ensuing oil spill at the Macondo well in 2010 led to changes in the industry, both cosmetic and substantive. Of these, the American public knows only about the cosmetic ones, starting with changes in the names of agencies responsible for federal oversight of operators in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS): from MMS to BOEMRE to BSEE. Drilling permit applications are now 350 pages, not 50 pages, as before.

On May 9, 2013, BSEE issued a policy statement that listed the nine points of a "robust safety culture."http://www.bsee.gov/BSEE-Newsroom/Press-Releases/2013/Press05092013...

On Friday, I called BSEE, and spoke with Jarvis Abbott. I asked if BSEE had contacted cultural anthropologists in devising its statement about culture. He offered to ask around and get back to me.

Some cultural anthropologists make the distinction between "ideal culture" and "real culture." The former is aspirational, then latter factual. The BSEE statement is clearly aspirational, a statement of idealized expectations, but without metrics or enforceability.

BSEE is about 10 years behind the Petroleum Safety Authority of Norway, which issued a 35-page booklet on HSE culture in 2004. BSEE in 2013 has a one-page list of attributes, with a discussion limited to just one sentence each.


I tentatively conclude that the likelihood of a Macondo-2 has been reduced, but only in the mind of the American public, as none of the specific issues that led to the original Macondo have been addressed.

I would like to be wrong in reaching this conclusion.

Question: Can anyone tell me why I'm wrong?

Views: 694

Comment by Russell Dwayne Olivier on June 3, 2013 at 11:20am

Your not wrong George. BSEE refuses to change their own culture. This governing agency was designed to inspect, BUT, help our industry. They are pencil happy at this time. I had the priviledge of mentoring several consultants last year about SEMS. In my field of work, I have become pretty good at reading reactions of people. Many consultants who have climbed the ranks from roughneck, to now consultants take much pride in their services. One thing that sticks with me, is an older man than me was issued an INK last year, resulting in a 30 minute shut down of his operation. I saw the reaction of the consultant who had never been told about this "standard", for what ever reason. One that does come to mind, he had be boarded and inspected by MMS for years, yet for some reason, no one with MMS told him about this noncompliant issue. Now the operators and consultants are having to jump through whoops, to get it just right. One incident happens, like Mocondo, the entire industry is punnished for it.


I hope we see change soon, for the good of all. If the operators and contractors can't make a profit, we the employees can't have a job. Hopefully, our industry can unite, as they are, and continue to do what we can to get it just right....we have proven to do so for years.


Thank you for the post and safe regards.



Comment by Inger Lise Monsen on June 3, 2013 at 6:54pm

George Baker, I learned at the University of Hawaii that there was (is?) no regulations on what kind of fracking fluids that are used onshore in the US. I was shocked..


I also attended a talk given by Donald C. Winter (while I studied at UH), he was the chairman of the committee investigation the Macondo accident. I could not help myself from apologizing for asking what might be a stupid question: "Do you not have official employees whom are experts on drilling, drilling fluids (and so on) to evaluate the substance of the drilling plans of the different companies? Someone who would demand improvements of plans or deny the companies to go on with hazardous operations.. " Apparently US don't (or at least did not) have this kind of system. And we all know -it is all about the money (on so many different levels).


Mr. Winter told us they had visited Norway to look at our way of doing things, and he strongly implied that his personal view on the topic of how to improve the safety of the oil industry would go a lot further than the final conclusion and suggestions of the committee (as he said, that was a teamwork and in order to come to an agreement, all members had to give and take..).


One of the things he pointed at was Norway's basic roughneck course of 12 weeks duration. This course is done in a classroom, and no roughnecks are being made there -but all students should know how the P = mgz theory of a balanced well works, learn enough geology to understand some and to realize how much we don't (or didn't ;) know about it -and a lot of other stuff like how to read some of the tables in the Drilling Data Handbook (torque on drill pipe, wear and tear hours on drill lines etc..).


If I understood Mr Winter, he would also have suggested that the US should have the same continuing drilling education that all roughnecks have to go through (2 or 3 years, depending on how intensive one chooses the studies to be -either four or two weeks per six weeks, in both ways we still keep on working while studying). Most drilling companies requires this for any advancement up the ladder (from the roughneck position). 


A lot of you might find this ridiculous, as other committee members obviously did. The theory is really: by having informed roughnecks (and other lower ranked drill crew members up to AD) -we are meant to participate in the thinking part as an opposite of just doing the things we are told, also to have knowledge that somehow exceeds our personal daily responsibilities of maintenance of machinery, dope, grease and MU/BD BHA and drill pipe connections (and so on..).


Discussions on the educational system have been risen recently (as seen in the magazine Teknisk Ukeblad) as some people think we are missing out on ever getting "the best roughnecks" out there because they will be busy farming or taking down trees or something else instead of spending about 12000 or more USD on mandatory safety classes BEFORE even having a chance of getting a job in the oil industry. 


As a former Norwegian roughneck (offshore) I do absolutely see the advantages of all these classes. I can however also confirm that not all supervisors find it useful to have thinking roughnecks asking difficult questions at the most inappropriate times (like when they already know they should stop to re-evaluate the situation). 


To further balance my post (Norway is not the perfect fairy tale country), SMB Offshore (with operator Talisman) was allowed to install the Yme platform that proved to be useless in Norwegian waters -in my opinion someone should have stopped this platform even before it was built.. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323826704578356781442...

-and in my opinion "everybody" should be able to see that this construction would not be fit for a Nordic storm.. http://www.aftenbladet.no/energi/Plattform-eier-tar-Yme-regningen-3... (norwegian article, maby google translator will work)

In english (with a better picture of the problem -legs with cracks): http://www.offshore.no/international/article/Settlement_reached_ove...

I guess we all still have a lot to learn.

Comment by Peter Aird on June 3, 2013 at 11:28pm
Generally the oil and gas industry is not 10 but 50years behind, aviation, transportation in terms of safety. E.g Oil and gas drilling does not manage safety, it concentrates on health and occupational safety.

Until incidents, near misses are looked at and termed what they really are I.e. accidents we are going nowhere. In the meantime we cover up our dirty washing daily accident loss through meaningless nlti statistics. E.g. A pin has come loose from a shackle is termed a near miss. No this is a non injury related accident where under difference circumstances a load could have fallen and killed people! The accident is the same it is only the consequences that change.

Facts are that 95% of daily accidents in drilling today do not get reported. Management directly blamed for their lack of compliance in their systems to do that.

We choose to call such events incidents, or near misses because for legal terms in the USA you are not allowed to call accidents accidents. Thus part of the problem.

Facts are 19 out of 20 accidents are diluted to be called incidents or near misses. In one out of 20 someone may get hurt and in the main this is where al today's focus is. On personal health protection, not on the other 19 out of 20.

It could be so simple. Safety is the control of all accident loss. When things go wrong we should manage this as accidental. We should report all accidents. From where corrective action should result to make our industry a simpler place.

Finally in terms of competency reflect on a fireman, a policeman, a nurse, a doctor, a pilot, a train driver, and the training they receive. Then reflect on drilling personnel s requirements to operate tools, equipment, understand to the required degree what's going on at surface or indeed down in the hole. It's sadly remains a disgrace because no one wants to pay for people to more competent or in real terms safe!
Comment by John Caire on June 7, 2013 at 8:01am

It's all about the money.  Deeper, cheaper. Disgraceful and disgusting.  But the powers that be sit in their ivory towers counting their beans.


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