Guest editorial: Bud Danenberger, Minerals Management Service

Posted on 12 March 2009

MMS names National SAFE finalists; winners to be announced during OTC event

In 1982, a determined MMS employee named Lowell Hammons initiated the Safety Awards for Excellence (SAFE) program. Lowell recognized that only so much could be achieved through regulations and enforcement, and that exceptional safety and environmental performance required the total commitment of the operating companies and their contractors. The SAFE program was established to identify, recognize and encourage the pace-setting companies that were raising the bar for safety and environmental achievement.

Lowell’s timing was good because a small cadre of enlightened managers were beginning to transform the offshore workplace. These leaders discouraged risk-taking and bravado, and encouraged coaching, teamwork and comprehensive safety planning. When they said “safety first,” they really meant it, and their actions backed up their words. The lessons taught by these visionaries have been embraced by many offshore operators and contractors. Now the challenge is to sustain and advance this “cultural revolution,” and committed companies have developed safety leadership courses to reinforce their safety and environmental messages.

The fundamentals of the MMS SAFE program have not changed in the 27 years since Lowell started it. MMS district offices present awards to the top performers in their district, and National SAFE awards are presented to the companies with the most outstanding overall performance. The number of award categories has grown to distinguish between high- and moderate-activity operators and to recognize the important contribution of contractors. Also, we are now better able to use quantitative compliance and incident data, and the associated activity indicators, to determine the top performers. These data, along with specific input from our field offices, determine the National SAFE finalists and winners. The SAFE selection process is thus unique in that nominations are neither solicited nor accepted. Companies self-nominate through their performance, which MMS closely monitors; and only the best make the cut.

The National SAFE Award presentations have had numerous venues. For the past ten years, the MMS has hosted the presentations at various Houston hotels, and there has been remarkable growth in interest in the program. This year will mark the beginning of a new era in that the National SAFE Awards will be presented at a special OTC luncheon. We are pleased to be presenting these important awards at the offshore industry’s premier conference. Please join us at the Reliant Center on 7 May to celebrate safety leadership and achievement.

This years National SAFE finalists are (alphabetical order by category):

Production contractor category:

  • Baker Energy
  • C&D Production Specialist Co
  • Danos & Curole Marine Contractors

Drilling contractor category:

  • Diamond Offshore Drilling
  • ENSCO International
  • Noble Drilling
  • Transocean

Moderate-activity production operator (>100 components and 1 million BOE
annual production):

  • Badger Oil
  • BHP Billiton Petroleum
  • Hunt Petroleum (AEC)
  • Noble Energy

High-activity production operator (>1000 components and 10 million
BOE annual production):

  • Anadarko Petroleum
  • BP Corp North America
  • Devon Energy Production Co
  • Exxon Mobil

Bud Danenberger is chief of offshore regulatory programs for the US Minerals Management Service.

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