By Dan Rabun, 2012 IADC Chairman
The last two years have been a challenging period for our industry. Eleven lives were lost and 16 others were seriously injured on 20 April 2010 as a result of the Macondo incident in the US Gulf of Mexico. We also lost a significant amount of trust and confidence with the public, regulators and many others.
On 26 January 2010, just a few months before the Macondo incident, I had the privilege of delivering the keynote address at the IADC Health, Safety, Environment & Training (HSE&T) Conference. At the time of the conference, we were experiencing extraordinary volatility in our sector, and I cautioned the audience not to let factors outside our control, such as fluctuating commodity prices and the global recession, distract us from our most important mission – safety, health and the environment.
The theme of the annual HSE&T conference was “Preparing for Tomorrow,” and here is some of what I said:
We need to concentrate on producing energy in the safest, most predictable and environmentally conscious way possible. Our jobs are becoming progressively more complex, and therefore, risk levels are rising. We need to remain vigilant when it comes to safety.
Our industry has evolved from drilling on land to shallow water, mid-water and now ultra-deepwater up to 10,000 ft. We are making massive investments in state-of-the-art rigs that are much more complicated, which, in turn, requires more highly trained and specialized personnel.
Some of these rigs are operating farther from shore, with more people on board and often in harsh weather conditions. We need to make sure that we stay one step ahead in terms of implementing safety measures and processes to prevent injuries to personnel, property and the environment. This requires collaboration between lots of different parties.
If demand for our services is increasing and what we do is becoming more complex with higher risks, we need to dedicate more time and resources to training, which is what this conference is all about.
Safety, first and foremost, is a core value. It is simply the right thing to do. Safety is also good business because I firmly believe that safe rigs are more efficient, more productive and more reliable.
Safety-conscious crews also protect the reputation of our industry. Demand for our services will be determined based on the world’s perception of the sustainability of oil and gas energy sources, and governments around the world will formulate their energy policies, in part, on their perception of our industry’s ability to deliver safe, reliable and environmentally friendly energy.
It’s up to each and every one of us to protect our industry’s reputation through our collective actions.
Unfortunately, what we all have worked very hard to prevent, happened. As an industry, we need to take ownership for the lessons learned from the Macondo incident. Chief among these lessons is the need to increase the focus on process safety and ensuring collaboration between all players involved.
At the same time, we should not lose sight of the fact that thousands of wells have been drilled successfully around the world using best oilfield practices developed by our industry over decades.
Based on information coming from the various investigative reports, I believe that if best oilfield practices had been followed, the Macondo incident never would have happened. The key, therefore, is to ensure that we redouble our focus on carefully following best oilfield practices, without exception.
As chairman of our industry group, I am proud of the efforts made by industry and regulators in the 20 months since that terrible day in April 2010. It is a testament to what can be achieved when operators, contractors and regulators work as a team with a single-minded goal to prevent reoccurrence. We have already seen significant improvements this past year, namely:
• Updates to the IADC HSE Guidelines for MODUs;
• The release of the 2nd edition of API RP65 part 2 – isolating potential flow zones during well construction;
• Improvements in well containment technologies;
• The establishment of the Center for Offshore Safety; and
• SEMS rule in the Gulf of Mexico and the release of the SEMS Toolkit, to name a few.
However, 2012 will be a pivotal year, with the release in Q1 of the final report from the Joint Industry Task Force recommendations to improve offshore operating procedures and equipment. This report will culminate in the release of:
• API/IADC Bulletin 97 Well Construction Interface Document;
• API RP 96 Deepwater Well Design and Construction, and
• A new revision of API RP/Standard 53 – Recommended Practices for Blowout Prevention Equipment Systems for Drilling Wells.
I have witnessed personally the sincere commitment of our industry leaders to raise safety standards even further, and I truly believe that we are now a stronger industry. We are complying with more stringent regulatory requirements, permits are being issued and rigs are back to work in most cases.
Our biggest challenge today is recruiting, retaining and training a sufficient number of competent crew members. Customer demand has increased, and utilization is rising. In addition, more than 129 rigs are under construction that will need to be crewed with thousands of new workers as they are delivered over the next few years. We need to ensure that we maintain high standards of formal training and competency when we fill these positions.
IADC has a comprehensive Competence Assurance Program (CAP) that gives us a formal framework to track the competency of our work forces, and we should implement IADC’s CAP, or similar programs, wherever possible.
In closing, I ask you to reinforce your visible passion for safety. It is the foundation upon which our industry is built. I commit to you that I will dedicate my tenure as chairman of IADC to raise the level of safety in our industry even further. I ask you to take the same challenge as we embark on 2012.