Posts Tagged ‘IRF’

Among the more important workstreams of the International Regulators’ Forum, a group of offshore safety regulators, are country performance data which provide a means of measuring and comparing offshore safety performance internationally. As we near the midpoint of 2023, the last data posted are for 2020. This lag makes it difficult to assess current trends and risks.

In addition to more timely updates, there are significant holes in the IRF data sets. For example, per IRF guidelines fatalities associated with illnesses or “natural causes” are not counted; nor are helicopter incidents that are not in the immediate vicinity of an offshore facility. Also, incidents associated with geophysical surveys, many pipeline segments, and (inexplicably) subsea wells and structures are excluded (see excerpts below).

Excerpts from IRF Performance Measurement Guidelines:

  • Exclude Geophysical and Geotechnical surveying and support vessel operations not directly associated with activities at an Offshore Installation
  • Exclude horizontal components associated with incoming and outgoing pipelines and flowlines beyond either the first flange at the seabed near an Offshore Installation or a 500 meter radius, whichever is less.
  • Exclude helicopter operations at or near an Offshore Installation
  • Exclude mobile or floating Offshore Installations being transported to or from the offshore location.
  • Exclude subsea wells and structures.
  • Do not include Fatalities and Injuries that are self-inflicted.
  • Do not include Occupational Illnesses in Fatality or Injury counts.
  • Do not include fatalities that are due to natural causes.

Perhaps the IRF can consider these and other data collection and publication issues at their next conference. Because voluntary incident reporting schemes have always suffered from incomplete or selective reporting, the regulators have to drive incident data collection and transparency.

Parallel US concerns about offshore incident data: After a review of BSEE fatality data provided in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, WWNO reported that “nearly half of known offshore worker fatalities in the Gulf of Mexico from 2005 to 2019 didn’t fit BSEE’s reporting criteria.” They noted that 24 of the 83 known offshore worker fatalities during that period were classified as “non-occupational.” (As previously posted, the rash of “natural cause” deaths (12) at Gulf of Mexico facilities in 2021 and 2022 is particularly troubling and warrants further investigation.)

Read Full Post »

An international regulatory colleague brought this puzzling RigZone article to my attention. Quotes:

“From one perspective, one can look at the overall absence of risk – from this perspective, we can easily say that either the United Kingdom’s North Sea or Canada’s Nova Scotian continental shelf is the safest region for offshore oil and gas operations right now,” Robak told Rigzone.

“Canada’s offshore industry accounts for approximately one million barrels per day, and its geographic location along the Nova Scotian continental shelf has been a benefit in that there is little to no risk to its continued operation on a day-to-day basis,” Robak said.


Scotian shelf

Read Full Post »

Raphael is a highly regarded offshore safety leader and a positive force for continuous safety achievement in Brazil and internationally.

Read Full Post »

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!

Read Full Post »

The International Regulators’ Forum (IRF) does a good job of compiling safety performance data for offshore oil and gas operations in member countries. Because these data are collected by the respective regulators and compiled in accordance with established guidelines, we consider the IRF compilations to be the most credible international incident summary data for the offshore industry.

BOE looked at the numbers for the IRF countries with the highest level of activity in terms of hours worked – Brazil, Norway, UK, and US. These countries accounted for 90% of the total hours worked in 2020, the last year for which data are available. The 2020 hours worked (millions) were also relatively similar for the 4 countries: Norway – 41.2, UK – 42.4, US – 50.4, Brazil – 50.7. The differences in hours worked were somewhat greater in the prior years, but not dramatically so.

We charted the fatality and lost-time (>3 days) data (below). Our intent at this point is to draw attention to the IRF data sets, not to assess and compare performance. We do think the overall safety performance in these and other IRF countries, while far from perfect, is quite good given the hundreds of millions of hours worked, complexity of operations, logistical challenges, and difficult operating environments. We recommend that the IRF prioritize the timely posting of these data, and begin providing causation information so that companies and other interested parties can better identify performance issues and safety trends.

Read Full Post »

Wreckage of theTrinity Spirit floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel is seen after an explosion and fire broke out at Shebah Exploration & Production Company Ltd (SEPCOL) offshore production site on Wednesday, in Warri, Nigeria February 4, 2022. REUTERS/Tife Owolabi
Trinity Spirit FPSO

Two weeks after the Trinity Spirit FPSO fire offshore Nigeria we still don’t know the fate of the crew. Neither the operator nor the regulator websites include any mention of the fire. The last operator statement (more than a week ago) advised that 3 workers were confirmed dead and others were still missing. There has been no subsequent update and the media have moved on, as is usually the case when there is no ongoing oil spill.

The absence of transparency in reporting major incidents and subsequent findings is not unique to Nigeria. BOE has commented on US shortcomings in that regard and the failure to release important information about past incidents worldwide.

We need an international standard that identifies incident information to be publicly disclosed and specifies the timeframes and methods for releasing this information. An API or ISO committee would seem to be the best means of developing such a standard. If these organizations are unwilling to take the lead, perhaps the International Regulators’ Forum can do so. The credibility of the offshore industry is at stake.

Read Full Post »

After an amazing 38 year career with MMS and BSEE, Lars Herbst has announced that he will retire at the end of 2021. Lars had important technical and managerial roles in the development of the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, the response to major hurricanes including Ivan, Katrina, and Rita, controlling the Macondo blowout and addressing the related regulatory issues, and the offshore industry’s response to the COVID-19. Lars was an active participant in the International Regulator’s Forum and is recognized worldwide for his operational and regulatory expertise. Best wishes to Lars as he transitions to the next phase of his life.

Read Full Post »

International Guests

  • The conference was nicely organized by the folks in the Department of the Interior and BOEMRE
  • Angola, Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom, Russia, and the US were represented. The European Union also participated.
  • Brazil was represented by two Petrobras managers, rather than governmental officials. This raised some eyebrows.
  • Australia formally announced yet another offshore regulators’ conference, the International Offshore Petroleum Regulators and Operators Summit in Perth (10-11 August). Do we need better coordination of the coordination conferences? Isn’t the International Regulators’ Forum (IRF) the best means of managing all of this?
  • The need for expanded offshore oil and gas operations was recognized by all participants.
  • Malcolm Webb of Oil and Gas UK, announced that UK operators would have a capping capability for subsea wells by the end of the summer. However,  no well containment system is planned. This omission, which was attributed to North Sea weather and sea conditions, is surprising. Capping is not an option if well integrity concerns prevent a well from being shut-in, either with the BOP or a cap (if the BOP failed). The absence of a well containment option would seem to be a significant gap in their response capability.
  • A working group was formed to consider a new or strengthened international organization for offshore safety and pollution prevention. In my view, the best option would be to enhance existing cooperation mechanisms, most notably the IRF. International cooperation on safety is not a new concept. The IRF, which was mentioned positively by many of the speakers at the Ministerial Forum, has existed since 1994 and has an ongoing international standards effort. A related group, ICRARD, has been coordinating offshore safety research for more than 15 years. Various industry organizations have international programs. ISO has a good system for developing and managing standards. The International Maritime Organization has official committees that address certain offshore safety and pollution issues. Making better use of existing committees and forums would seem to make more sense than starting new ones.

With BOEMRE dynamos - (Kona) Kevin Kunkel and July (Ms. COOL) McQuilliams

link to videos

Read Full Post »

When an investigation has been completed and corrective action is necessary, the PSA (Norway) approach is to make the operator take ownership of the problem. The operator is directed to develop solutions and implementation schedules that are acceptable to the regulator. See the PSA directive to Statoil below following the investigation of the Gullfaks B gas release.

In contrast, there is a tendency in the US for the regulator to take ownership of the problem and thus assume responsibility for developing solutions. The regulator dictates these solutions to the operator (and perhaps the entire industry), sometimes without sufficient discussion or analysis. Of course, US regulators may not have a choice in the matter as the political system often demands that the regulator take action, perhaps before the investigation is even completed (or started!).

Which approach presents the greater opportunity for success? Most regulators would say the former, and that was the consensus view at the International Regulators’ Offshore Safety Conference in Vancouver.

Read Full Post »

I am honored to be serving as one of the judges for this year’s Safety in Seas Award. As it has been every year since 1978, this prestigious award will be presented at NOIA’s Annual Meeting in April. To the best of my knowledge, Safety in Seas is the oldest safety award program for offshore oil and gas operations. This year’s nominations are very impressive. Congratulations to the participating companies and individuals!

I have had the pleasure of participating in other offshore safety awards programs including the Carolita Kallaur Awards and the MMS Safety Awards For Excellence (SAFE). Unfortunately, the latter program appears to have been suspended or terminated, presumably as a result of last year’s blowout.  That is unfortunate. The SAFE program was initiated in 1983, and District and National awards had been presented each year. The winners took great pride in their safety achievements. As many as 800 people packed the annual awards event in Houston to recognize the winners, promote safety achievement, and draw attention to safety issues.

Past achievements don’t guarantee future success in any endeavor, be it sports, the arts, business, or even politics. However, we don’t stop recognizing champions because they might fail in the future, we don’t stop presenting Academy Awards because future movies might be disappointing, and we don’t stop holding elections even though we never seem to get it right.

It’s been a tough five years for the US offshore industry – recovering from a series of major hurricanes and an unprecedented drilling blowout. Investigations continue and changes are necessarily being made. During these challenging times, positive recognition is more important than ever.  We must learn from successes as well as failures, and reinforce outstanding offshore safety leadership. I look forward to the presentation of the Safety in Seas Award and hope that SAFE program will resume in the near future, either under the direction of the Federal government or separately.

British-Borneo USA, Inc.

DOI Asst. Secretary Sylvia Baca and MMS Associate Director Carolita Kallaur present 2000 SAFE Award (moderate activity category) to British Borneo USA

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »