Lessons Learned Following Macondo - Safety Enhancement
- Dennis Denney (JPT Senior Technology Editor)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- August 2012
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 109 - 112
- 2012. Offshore Technology Conference
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- 304 since 2007
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This article, written by Senior Technology Editor Dennis Denney, contains highlights of paper OTC 23436, "Lessons Learned Following Macondo - Safety Enhancement on the US Outer Continental Shelf," by J.G. Lantz, P.E. Little, J.P. Nadeau, and J.D. Reynolds, US Coast Guard, prepared for the 2012 Offshore Technology Conference, Houston, 30 April-3 May. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
The US Coast Guard is responsible for protecting the marine environment, promoting the safety of life and property, and ensuring security on the US outer continental shelf (OCS). Though the Macondo incident was not initiated by failures within areas of US Coast Guard jurisdiction and safety systems regulated by the US Coast Guard generally performed well under the extreme conditions, the US Coast Guard is reviewing its regulatory construct and seeking “lessons learned” from this tragic incident.
Authority and Regulatory Construct
The US Coast Guard, within the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has broad authority under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to regulate the safety of life and property on facilities and vessels engaged in US OCS activities and the safety of navigation. The US Coast Guard also is responsible for promoting workplace safety and health by enforcing requirements related to personnel, workplace activities, and conditions and equipment on the US OCS.
A US OCS activity is any activity on the US OCS associated with exploration, development, production, transportation by pipeline, storage, or processing of mineral resources, including hydrocarbons. A US OCS facility is any artificial island, installation, pipeline, or other device permanently or temporarily attached to the seabed, erected for the purpose of exploring for, developing, producing, transporting by pipeline, storing, or processing mineral resources from the US OCS. This term does not include ships or vessels for transporting produced hydrocarbons.
Lessons Learned From Macondo
The Deepwater Horizon accident was a catastrophic event initiated by failure of well containment, an area that falls under the jurisdiction of the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). Volume 1 of the report of the US Department of Interior and DHS joint-investigation team (JIT) revealed that, in general, the safety systems aboard the Deepwater Horizon regulated by the US Coast Guard had a beneficial effect, despite the extreme nature of the event. Of the 126 people onboard, 115 survived the explosions and subsequent fire. All survivors were able to evacuate the mobile offshore drilling unit (MODU) by way of the installed life-saving equipment, except for at least six who jumped from the rig into the water. Even though significantly damaged by explosions and initial effects of the fire, the Deepwater Horizon was able to stay afloat for more than 48 hours while engulfed in a major fire, fed by an uncontrolled fuel source.
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