Roadmap Shows the Way to Ocean Energy Safety for the 21st Century

The people who make up the offshore oil and gas industry have an expectation that they will be able to do their job each day with zero harm to their safety or the environment. The Ocean Energy Safety Institute (OESI) and the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America (RPSEA) have teamed up to create a roadmap to achieve this goal.

The 21st Century Ocean Energy Safety Research Roadmap identifies four independent pillars to achieving zero harm: human factors, process safety, safety and environmental management systems (SEMS), and technology.

The human factors pillar involves developing the proper culture, tools, and training for all workers to apply these resources for a safe work environment. This includes both the way people interact with machines and the way people interact in a social environment.

The process safety pillar considers how the oil and gas industry manages hazards to protect people, equipment, and other assets. Process safety is a disciplined framework for managing the integrity of operating systems and processes that handle hazardous substances. For the oil and gas industry, the emphasis of process safety and asset integrity is to prevent catastrophic failures of equipment or process, leading to unplanned releases that could result in a major incident.

The SEMS pillar is vital because it allows for audits. SEMS are also part of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) rule known as the Workplace Safety Rule, intended to provide greater protection by supplementing operators’ SEMS programs, such as those developed through the Center for Offshore Safety, with a process for identifying and documenting these systems. Also included in this pillar is training employees, empowering field-level personnel with safety-management decisions, and strengthening auditing procedures by requiring them to be completed by independent third parties. The BSEE rule made mandatory the previously voluntary practices in API Recommended Practice 75 and is aligned with elements of the ISO standards 9001, 14001, and 45001.

The technology pillar results from investments in safety and environmental research and innovation. The roadmap focuses on this pillar primarily by identifying the challenges faced when advancing technology through research and development. The basis for the roadmap is to identify the current state of the art and areas where technology is rapidly advancing through innovation.

The roadmap is designed to enable OESI to create a dialogue between the research community, end-users, and regulators. Its recommendations come from workshops, interviews with subject-matter experts, surveys, and an extensive literature search. One of the roadmap's major points is the need for better coordination among all stakeholders.

The roadmap is broken down by topics, including drilling and completions, operations, production, transportation, spills, and technology transfer. Within these topics are specific research needs in a variety of areas, from planning through surface and subsea operations.

A paper based on the roadmap has been accepted to be presented at the 2019 Offshore Technology Conference in Houston.

Read the report here (PDF).

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