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Energy Tomorrow Blog

Q&A: New Center for Offshore Safety Director Talks Responsibilities, Goals

center for offshore safety  safe operations  offshore oil production 

John Siciliano

John D. Siciliano
Posted May 20, 2020

Capt. Russell Holmes is the Center for Offshore Safety’s (COS) new director after serving for nearly three decades with the U.S. Coast Guard.

Holmes, who retired from the Coast Guard in 2020, takes over for Charlie Williams, who had led the center since 2012 after a long industry career. Holmes will be taking the center’s mission of offshore safety and environmental protection into its second decade of existence.

The center was created soon after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico. Since then, the COS has enhanced the safety culture in offshore operations, while supporting federal regulations that mandate Safety and Environmental Management Systems (SEMS) at all operations on the Outer Continental Shelf.

Just prior to joining the center, Holmes served as the Coast Guard’s senior point of contact for offshore safety in the Gulf, overseeing marine inspection and investigation programs that ultimately support SEMS. As he explains in the Q&A below, Holmes says the industry’s professionalism and safety commitment matched his while he was serving as one of industry’s lead regulators.

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Q&A: Industry Leadership, Partnerships Make Offshore Safer Than Ever

offshore safety  bsee  api standards program  deepwater horizon 

John Siciliano

John D. Siciliano
Posted April 20, 2020

Today is the 10th anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico. A decade later, offshore energy development has never been safer, largely because of industry leadership in developing new technologies and creating a proactive safety management culture. This is critically important because the offshore accounts for 15% of U.S. oil production. Innovations in infrastructure and deep-sea equipment, plus rigorous safety training, safety protocols and the management tools to ensure those protocols are effective, reflect industry’s commitment to prevent such an incident, in which lives were lost, from happening again. In the Q&A that follows, Debra Phillips, API senior vice president for Global Industry Services, talks about what has been learned and industry’s responses – including hundreds of safety standards – to maximize offshore safety.


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New Integrity Management Standards Increase Offshore Safety

api standards program  offshore safety 

Debra Phillips

Debra Phillips
Posted September 24, 2019

As the U.S. will soon become a net exporter of total energy, API is continuing to lead the way on safety and environmental protection through the development of key industry standards.

Globally, offshore energy development is poised to grow, with significant new finds spurring the construction of some of the largest floating offshore production facilities ever built.

Just this past month, API released a suite of new Integrity Management (IM) standards outlining how floating production platforms should function to improve operational efficiency, safety, and environmental protection.

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Safe or Safer Offshore Regulatory Compliance, Part 2

offshore safety  bsee  offshore technology  innovation  spill 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted March 7, 2019

In this post last week we explained how alternative measures, approved by federal officials, may be used to comply with the 2016 well control rule, as well as all regulatory requirements associated with offshore oil and natural gas development. …

Now the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) is chiming in – not surprising, since the agency’s integrity was besmirched. In a letter to members of Congress this week, Lars Herbst, BSEE’s Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf regional director, called the regulatory provision for alternative procedures or equipment “long-standing,” having been granted by the previous administration as well as the current one. Herbst writes that “zero” waivers have been granted by BSEE regarding the well control rule.


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Safe or Safer Offshore Regulatory Compliance

offshore safety  safe operations  bsee  offshore technology  innovation  spill 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted February 28, 2019

Months before the federal offshore well control rule went into effect in July 2016, API told Congress the safety regulation could actually increase risks associated with offshore oil and natural gas development – that its rigid requirements could stifle innovation and thwart the effectiveness of new operational technologies.

The 2016 rule is an example of “prescriptive” regulation, a one-size-fits-all approach that requires certain processes, procedures and tests. It was and is the wrong approach for offshore safety – mainly because every oil and natural gas well has different characteristics: geology, depth, water pressure and temperature and other variables that factor into developing the best safety plan for a particular well.

In that context offshore operators seek government-approved alternative compliance paths – which they’ve done since the rule’s launch in 2016, when the Obama administration was in charge of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), the overseer of offshore safety. Indeed, the requests show the rule needs fixing.

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Smarter, More Efficient Regulation for U.S. Energy

regulation  offshore safety  industry standards  spill 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted March 26, 2018

Let’s correct a false narrative out there, that the Trump Administration is rolling back natural gas and oil regulation to benefit industry. A different view is that federal officials are deploying smarter, more efficient, more effective regulation of industry operations, onshore and offshore – which will work best to ensure the safe and well-managed energy development America needs for economic growth and national security, today and well into the future.

By smart, efficient and effective regulation we mean clear, commonsense rules that take into account industry’s innovation, advanced technologies and experience, as well as its long, demonstrated commitment to establishing useful standards for operations, equipment and personnel. All of these have strengthened the culture of safety in our industry – particularly in its offshore activities.

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Offshore Development: Safety Above All Else

Offshore  social-license-to-operate  Safety  offshore safety 

Kate Wallace

Kate Lowery
Posted October 18, 2017

Keeping our workforce safe is just one area of continuously improving safety that the natural gas and oil industry works hard on every day. Whether it’s checking pipelines for potential damage, transporting products via rail car, storing natural gas supplies underground, or producing in deepwater, our industry is committed to safe operations as a core value. One area where the industry brings a keen focus  is the safety of offshore operations, including asset integrity and safety and environmental management systems.

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The Offshore Energy Safety Imperative

offshore energy  offshore safety  offshore technology  bsee  north carolina  south carolina  virginia  spill 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted August 10, 2017

As the Trump administration weighs opening the Mid-Atlantic outer continental shelf to future oil and natural gas development, a number of people who work and live in coastal areas appropriately question whether offshore energy can be developed safely, without undue risks. The answer is yes.

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Safe Offshore Energy Development is in U.S. Best Interest

offshore energy development  safety standards  safe operations  regulation  oil and natural gas  center for offshore safety  spill 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted September 28, 2016

Safe offshore energy development is a by-product of advanced technologies and equipment, an ever-expanding knowledge base, improved worker training, an effective partnership of industry and regulatory authorities, constantly improving standards for deepwater exploration and production and, over it all, an industry committed to creating and growing a culture of safety in offshore operations.

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Continuing the Offshore Safety Discussion

offshore safety  oil and natural gas production  bsee  regulation  safe operations 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted December 2, 2015

A couple of important takeaways from this week’s Capitol Hill hearing on a proposed federal well control rule for offshore drilling:

First, offshore drilling is safer today than it has ever been – for the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska and Pacific regions. In coordination with federal regulators, industry has improved the safety of offshore development – in terms of safety systems management, prevention and response – while advancing the nation’s energy security through continued offshore oil and natural gas production.

This is seen in the approximately 275 API exploration and production standards that include offshore operations, more than 100 of which have been incorporated into federal regulation. 

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