As we approach the fourth anniversary of the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon tragedy and environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, I would like to announce that the comprehensive Chemical Safety Board investigation of the Macondo well blowout is in the final stages of completion and the first two volumes are planned to be released at a public meeting in Houston on June 5.
The death and destruction of that day are seared in our consciousness. The forthcoming CSB investigation report has a singular focus: preventing such an accident from happening again.
Eleven workers lost their lives, many others were injured, and oil and other hydrocarbons flowed uncontrolled out of the well for months after the explosion on the rig, owned and operated by Transocean under contract with BP. The CSB, at the request of Congress, launched an independent investigation with a broad mandate to examine not only the technical reasons that the incident occurred, but also any possible organizational and cultural causal factors, and opportunities for improving regulatory standards and industry practices to promote safe and reliable offshore energy supplies.
While a number of reports have been published on the incident, and changes made within the U.S. offshore regulatory regime, more can be done. On June 5, the CSB will release the first two volumes of our four-volume investigation report, covering technical, regulatory, and organizational issues.
The CSB examines this event from a process safety perspective, integrating fundamental safety concepts, such as the hierarchy of controls, human factors, and inherent safety into the U.S. offshore vernacular. While these concepts are not new in the petrochemical world or in other offshore regions around the globe, they are not as commonplace in the U.S. outer continental shelf.
At the public meeting, investigators will present for board consideration what I believe is a very comprehensive examination of various aspects of the incident.
Going beyond other previously released reports on the accident, the CSB explores issues not fully covered elsewhere, including:
--The publication of new findings concerning the failures of a key piece of safety equipment—the blowout preventer—that was, and continues to be, relied upon as a final barrier to loss of well control.
--A comprehensive examination and comparison of the attributes of regulatory regimes in other parts of the world to that of the existing framework and the safety regulations established in the US offshore since Macondo.
--In-depth analysis and discussion of needed safety improvements on a number of organizational factors, such as the industry’s approach to risk management and corporate governance of safety management for major accident prevention, and workforce involvement through the lifecycle of hazardous operations.
Recommendations will be included in the various volumes of the CSB’s Macondo investigation report.
Volume 1 will recount a summary of events leading up to the Macondo explosions and fire on the rig, providing descriptive information on drilling and well completion activities.
Volume 2 will present several new critical technical findings, with an emphasis on the functioning of the blowout preventer (BOP), a complex subsea system that was intended to help mitigate and prevent a loss of well control. This volume examines the failures of the BOP as a safety-critical piece of equipment and explores deficiencies in the management systems meant to ensure that the BOP was reliable and available as a barrier on April 20, 2010.
Later in the year, the board will consider report Volume 3 which will delve into the role of the regulator in the oversight of the offshore industry. Finally, Volume 4 will explore several organizational and cultural factors that contributed to the incident.
We look forward to presenting this vital information to the public, industry, Congress, and all others interested in fostering safety in the offshore drilling and production industry.
For more information, contact Communications Manager Hillary Cohen, cell 202-446-8094 or Sandy Gilmour, Public Affairs, cell 202-251-5496.