Home / News / Bud Danenberger, MMS, praises safety progress, calls for more industry participation

 Providing a regulatory update at the IADC HSE&T Conference on 4 February in Houston, MMS’ Elmer “Bud” Danenberger said that steady progress has been made on issues like safety and well control, though improvements are still needed in training and the level of industry participation. 

On hurricane issues, Mr Danenberger, MMS chief of offshore regulatory programs, noted that tie-downs appeared to have been helpful during Hurricane Ike last year, while global positioning systems didn’t work as well. Hurricane response team need to get MODU adrift data on a real-time basis, he encouraged.

Bud Danenberger, MMS, praises safety progress, calls for more industry participation

Additionally, more work is needed to revise metocean data, particularly for the Central Western Gulf, and he called for a better method of capturing lessons learned during hurricanes by “getting all that data into a centralized system where everybody can benefit.”

MODU mooring improvements proved themselves valuable during Ike, with only two failures out of 10 rigs exposed. On the other hand, jackup performance was more disappointing, with three total losses in that storm. “We thought that RP 95J, the jackup standard, had provided some pretty good guidance … so we have to find out exactly what happened on these failures and see what can be done to correct that,” he said.

This year’s MMS SAFE Awards Program will be held during an OTC luncheon on 7 May at the Reliant Center in Houston. For more information, please click here.

Commenting on safety, Mr Danenberger called the 16 work-related fatalities on the OCS in 2008 “too, too high.” He also encouraged the offshore industry to take safety management to a higher level – beyond complying with regulations and even beyond actively managing operations to achieve safety/environmental objectives. He urged the industry to more actively participate in standards development, conduct research and develop technology, and share important safety information. These things can be achieved by attending industry events like the HSE&T Conference or participating in committees run by IADC or similar organizations.

Participation, especially among production operators, should be much higher, he urged.

Turning to well control, Mr Danenberger praised the industry for reducing the number of incidents from one in every 246 wells drilled (1971-1991) to one in every 328 wells (1992-2008). But perhaps an even better improvement was made on reducing the severity of well control incidents during drilling. While there were 25 fatalities related to such incidents from 1971-1991, there was only one similar fatality from 1992-2008. “You can pat yourselves on the back. Lots of good work,” he commented.

Still, further improvements may be needed. Mr Danenberger expressed concern over well control training, particularly with student retention and competency monitoring, and said MMS is moving forward with a written and hands-on testing program. A workshop will be held on 19 February in New Orleans to review the Subpart O Well Control and Production Safety Training testing program. Industry attendance is encouraged. For more information, please click here.

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