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World Oilfield Forum

Will SEMS-2 prevent the next Macondo?

Last night, reading over the 9 characteristics of a "robust safety culture," I had the sensation that they purpose was to convey the idea that had such a culture existed on DWH, the Macondo accident would have been prevented. I made a 2-column table in Excel: 1 column for the 9 points, the other for "Applicability to DWH." For all but one of the points (Continuous Improvement), I was able to identify a specific issue at DWH.

It's telling that BSEE makes a point of saying that it's not going to say anything about how you create a robust safety culture. At the OTC panel on Safety on May 9 it was emphasized that SEMS was not about creating a new system of check lists. "There is no such thing as safety compliance," one panelist said.

If you take it (as I do) that there is a specific safety culture to drilling, then the SEMS logic does not wash; and the Macondo accident would have still happened. Tell me if you disagree.

The "root cause" of the Macondo accident may be traced to the mind games being played in the mud room; that is, the cause was sociological. The data showed that cement integrity had not been established; but the mud crew and the top company man signed off on an ad hoc explanation about “data sloshing,” an explanation that had no basis in science or protocol. Unfortunately, the people who could have told us how this explanation got started are now dead.

I come back to the idea of “signing-off on,” and it is here were I think that there should be a SEMS-3 for drilling, or, at least, for temporary well abandonment. There should be a prescriptive protocol by which, by secret ballot (but recorded for auditing and training purposes), five people from the Mud Room, and three people from the Onshore Control Room VOTE as to whether well integrity has been established or not. In this way, specific names are attached (even if not shown at the time) to the determination of well integrity.

The “voting records” would be available—two weeks later--only to senior HSE staff, and specifically not available to the crew or supervisors.

By this very prescriptive protocol, one vote of the eight cast would require that the abandonment process stop.

A second prescription element would be that the onsite company man would not have authority to overrule the vote on well integrity.

BSEE wants to have external auditors evaluate a company’s Safety and Environmental Management System. Good. The prescriptive elements identified here would give the auditors something to focus on. It’s too bad that the safety auditors onboard DWH on April 20 did not do the same.


Views: 702

Comment by Russell Dwayne Olivier on May 31, 2013 at 6:35am

I read the smae thread George. I through my two cents in, got a reply this morning that I expected.

It will be interesting as thread moves forward. As far as MMS, I see no post about their culture, BSEE!

Have a good day sir.

Comment by DP Consultant on May 31, 2013 at 9:44am

Your analysis is spot-on, but I'd add another element, not at all in disagreement, in support.

I am very familiar with the DWH and have said and will say again, everyone should remember two things, call them "grains of salt".

Grain 1: The quadrupling of the GoM deepwater fleet in the 24 months prior to Macondo resulted in significant dilution not just of experience, but confidence.  Remember when you were new, something didn't look right but perceiving yourself as "the new guy", "the worm", you kept your mouth shut.    If any of a half dozen hands new to the DWH but not new to drilling had spoken up, broke with our tradition of new hands staying silent, nothing would have happened.

Grain 2: BP and Transocean have industry leading safety culture and procedures.  If they had followed THEIR OWN RULES nothing would have happened.

Comment by Russell Dwayne Olivier on May 31, 2013 at 3:17pm

Spot on DP


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