Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

“Our knowledge and expertise in geoscience and petroleum engineering represent advantageous foundation for CCS development, leading us towards our carbon emissions reduction target.” 


Those who closely followed Australia’s Montara Inquiry in 2010 may be less convinced about PTTEP’s expertise. The Montara well suspension program was completely irresponsible. Even though the production casing cement was clearly compromised, PTTEP suspended the well without a single barrier in the well bore. The company was extremely lucky to have avoided a major safety, environmental, and economic disaster. Perhaps they are a very different company now; I certainly hope so.

Montara blowout, Timor Sea

The PTTEP announcement adds to our skepticism about the motives of some CCS proponents. Is CCS prudent public policy? That question is by no means settled and there has been very little opportunity for comment and debate. BOE has raised concerns and there are no doubt many more that have yet to be addressed.

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Upstream image

After 8 outstanding years with Australia’s offshore safety and environmental regulator, Stuart Smith has announced that he will be departing NOPSEMA in September. Stuart was a highly effective CEO and an important contributor to international offshore safety initiatives. Best wishes to Stuart!

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Industry environment plans

Good read for you inspection and regulatory policy nerds. (I know you’re out there! 😃). The draft policy looks very good at first glance.

If (like me) you can’t help yourself, here is the link for providing feedback.

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The 2011 Operational Review will examine NOPSA’s activities and legislated functions including engagement with stakeholders, particularly in relation to Safety Case development and the implementation and promotion of improved workplace safety practices and culture.

NOPSA CEO, Jane Cutler, said she welcomes the commencement of the 2011 Operational Review and will be keen to cooperate with the Review team and read the recommendations of the final report, scheduled to be handed to the Minister by Wednesday November 30.

Regular external reviews are valuable if for no other reason than to promote informed discussion, and to provide an opportunity for the public and regulated industry to provide input to an independent panel.

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From the West Australian:

A new system to regulate the offshore gas and oil industry – a direct response to the 2009 Montara north of the Kimberley – has been approved by the Federal Parliament’s lower house.

Under the changes, the seven state and territory authorities will be replaced by a single Commonwealth body, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority.

It will regulate all safety issues from exploration to well decommissioning.

In the US, the jurisdictional conflicts (offshore) differ in that they typically involve multiple Federal regulators with overlapping jurisdiction and different priorities. Since most of the necessary streamlining would only involve Federal agencies, one would think that regulatory reform would be achievable, especially after a major blowout that killed eleven. Unfortunately, meaningful US reform appears to be highly unlikely.

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Resources Minister Martin Ferguson is determined to establish a single national regulator after the Montara oil spill in the Timor Sea leaked oil and gas condensate for more than two months in 2009.

The WA government is at odds with Mr Ferguson over plans for a national regulator and wants to maintain responsibility for oversight of the industry in the state.

Senator Eggleston and Senator David Bushby said the federal government had introduced the legislation to parliament before concluding ongoing negotiations with the WA government. Herald Sun

Meanwhile, still no news regarding any penalties for Montara operator PTTEP.  Will there be none?

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News: BOEMRE releases report on the September 2010 Mariner Fire in the Gulf of Mexico.
BOE Comments:

  • Good report and relatively timely. Nice job by the team.
  • Good discussion of the heater-treater and production safety issues.
  • This was a very serious incident and lives were jeopardized. Sadly, no oil spill means no public attention.
  • Why didn’t the Coast Guard participate in the investigation? Will they be reporting on the haphazard evacuation?
  • Age old question: Is the rather extensive discussion of violations appropriate for an accident report? Should violations and enforcement actions be managed independently from accident investigations?
BOE: Floating liquefaction facilities open interesting possibilities for producing natural gas in remote offshore locations, possibly including the arctic.  The first FLNG facility will be 488 m from bow to stern! Offshore to the future!
BOE: Lots of posturing and not much in the way of meaningful proposals from either party. Unlike Australia, the US has not responded to its blowout with necessary legislative action, most notably the establishment of a single offshore safety and pollution prevention regulator.
BOE: Engineers solve problems when given the opportunity and encouragement. JL Daeschler is busy at the drawing board!
News: Greenland rolls on. despite Greenpeace protests. Cairn Energy has begun a second summer of drilling.
Views: Last summer’s results must have been sufficiently encouraging to justify further exploration. 
News: Hurricane season officially begins tomorrow.
BOE: There has been surprisingly little public discussion about the offshore industry’s preparations. Hopefully, everyone is ready.
BOE: Where is the worldwide commitment from industry and government? This problem can and must be fixed!

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PTTEP Exploration Plan

PTTEPAA, through its responsible and proactive response to the Incident has shown its commitment to responsible environmental management.

Comment: Those who read the Montara submissions and closely followed the official inquiry are likely to question this conclusion. Perhaps PTTEP should have emphasized the lessons learned and their commitment to better performance in the future.


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While C-SPAN has broadcast some of the proceedings, the Deepwater Horizon Joint Investigation hearings have inexplicably not been streamed live by the Coast Guard (USCG) and Department of the Interior (DOI).  The National Commission and Chemical Safety Board streamed their hearings live, but the USCG and DOI have not done so.  Why? This is perhaps the most significant accident in the history of the US offshore oil and gas program, and the most notable worldwide offshore disaster since Piper Alpha in 1988. Eleven men died on the Deepwater Horizon.  Economic costs will total in the tens of $billions. Major regulatory changes, some of which don’t appear to address identified risks, are being imposed.

The upcoming hearings are particularly important because the BOP issues that will be discussed have enormous international significance. In this era, the world shouldn’t have to travel to New Orleans to observe the hearings, rely on sketchy press reports, or wait months for transcripts to be released. (And how is it that the Montara Inquiry Commission in Australia was able to post transcripts within hours after the conclusion of each day’s hearing?)

Accident prevention is dependent on complete and timely information.  Had more people paid attention to Montara, Macondo may have been prevented. The upcoming Deepwater Horizon BOP hearings are of critical importance, and should be streamed so that all interested parties can follow the proceedings.

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The tragedy in Japan has added yet more uncertainty to nervous energy markets:
Japan will likely need more imported oil and natural gas due to closures of nuclear reactors caused by Friday’s earthquake and tsunami, but volumes can’t be calculated accurately as it is unclear how much industrial output has been affected by the disaster and how long power nuclear and thermal power plants will remain closed. Wall Street Journal
It’s much too early to gauge how the nuclear power industry, which some have touted as a model for safety achievement, will be affected.
    Standards news and discussion:
    Offshore Safety Institute?
    The CEOs of major oil and gascompanies will meet March 18 to decide how to proceed with the formation of a US offshore drilling safety institute, William Reilly, the co-chair of the National Oil Spill Commission, said March 8. Platts Oilgram News
    New twist in Cuban drilling drama – Petrobras relinquishes interest
    Marco Aurelio Garcia, foreign policy adviser to President Dilma Rousseff, told reporters in Havana exploratory work off Cuba’s northern coast had not shown good results and that Brazil wanted to concentrate on its own oil fields.
    Since BP’s disastrous Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico last April, the risks of offshore oil drilling have been a hot topic. One place it isn’t questioned much is Brazil, whose oil production industry is one of the fastest-growing in the world because of vast new deepwater oil reservoirs discovered in the past five years.
    Mexican Deepwater Update (Platts Oilgram News)
    Pemex has just begun to explore in Mexico’s Gulf of Mexico waters deeper than 1,000 feet, but 28 billion undiscovered barrels of oilequivalent are thought to exist in that area, some of which borders US territorial waters. Pemex officials said the company is forging a development plan for its first deepwater field, Lakach, located northeast of the state of Veracruz in about 3,200 feet of water. First production is expected in 2015.
    Environmentalists are furious at a proposal by the petroleum company Shell to start exploration drilling off one of Western Australia’s most treasured reefs. Ningaloo Reef off the north-west coast, has been nominated for World Heritage listing.

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