This post is the third in a series in which we consider how our approach to industrial safety, and process safety in particular, may change in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is early days — no one knows what the ultimate health and economic effects of this frightening event will be. But it seems likely that we are entering a ‘New Normal’. So much has happened so quickly that it is hard to visualize how we can return to the ‘Old Normal’. All of us wish for a quick, V-shaped recession, after which the economy comes roaring back, more vibrant than ever.
If you fly over the offshore platform of the future in a helicopter and look down you will see just two living beings: an operator and a dog. The operator’s job is to feed the dog; the dog’s job is to make sure that the operator doesn’t touch anything.
This article from the online journal The Hill makes some pointed criticisms to do with BSEE’s rolling back of regulations that were introduced following the Deepwater Horizon/Macondo explosion and fire. It states,
The Deepwater Horizon/Macondo catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) in the year 2010 demonstrated the need for new safety management regulations. The draft regulations went through various iterations, and the name of the responsible government agency changed twice. In the end, the SEMS (Safety and Environmental Management System) regulation became a requirement for offshore oil and gas operations in the United States.
Overview (BSEE Risk)
As part of its Well Control Rule BSEE appears to have made a major change in the manner in which offshore risk is to be managed. Section 250.107(a)(3) states,
[y]ou must protect health, safety, property and the environment by utilizing recognized engineering practices that reduce risks to the lowest level practicable when conducting design, fabrication, installation, operation, inspection, repair, and maintenance activities.