Best-in-Class Standards Improve Global Safety and Environmental Protection
John D. Siciliano
Posted January 29, 2020
The U.S. natural gas and oil industry’s commitment to safety and environmental protection standards is attracting respect and recognition worldwide, with many countries aiming to make API standards a key part of their future energy plans.
This week API, the International Association of Gas & Oil Producers (IOGP) and Mexico’s Asociación Mexicana de Empresas de Hidrocarburos (AMEXHI) signed a memorandum of understanding for enhanced coordination, joint forums on specific issues, the sharing of best practices and technical workshops. Debra Phillips, API senior vice president of Global Industry Services (GIS):
“API furthers safe and efficient operations around the world through world-class standards and best practices. Through this MOU, our associations will collaborate and share best practices on ways to improve safety, environmental protection and sustainability across oil and gas operations in the Gulf of Mexico.”
API President and CEO Mike Sommers recently underscored the importance of API’s standards as a “core program” to advance safety, environmental protection and sustainability around the globe:
“From foundational offshore safety to pipeline leak detection, API standards drive safety, environmental protection, and sustainability. Not only here in the United States, but across the world.”
Global interest in safety standards has led us to begin collaborating with our counterparts in South America, the Middle East, Asia and beyond, using and developing the industry’s “best-in-class” standards to ensure energy development is safe for workers, their communities and future generations.
A report issued by API’s GIS division – which develops safety standards for the industry – found that governments and standard-setting bodies in 17 countries include API standards in regulation or some other capacity. According to the report:
“API standards are widely recognized and are used actively around the globe. Across the 17 markets, 444 references to API standards were identified through an open source examination of laws, regulations, national standards, technical guidance, and operational manuals.”
The 444 references found in the report likely underestimates the total use of industry standards used globally, since many countries do not make all standards-setting activities public. The total is projected to be much higher, according to the report.
The countries examined include: China, India, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador.
To accommodate the use of standards by other countries, some foundational API standards are being updated specifying their use in both foreign markets and the United States.
For example, newly revised API safety and environmental protection standards for offshore oil and natural gas production, for the first time, are now applicable for use in the global market and not just in the U.S. Outer-Continental Shelf for which they were initially designed.
This was done in response to growing demand for API standards in other parts of the world, where offshore energy development continues to grow.
Speaking at the State of American Energy 2020 forum earlier this month, Sommers offered some examples of the international direction API is taking to promote its standards globally, while including efforts to help countries establish functional energy markets:
“… We’ve introduced our best-in-class practices for developing natural gas and oil markets both in Guyana and Nigeria. We’ve also signed agreements with our counterparts in India, Saudi Arabia, and Russia, so that producers and government agencies in these regions can rely on our standards and programs to drive safe operations.”
In the case of Guyana, API partnered with IOGP to lead talks last year in the country’s capital, Georgetown, on creating a comprehensive energy infrastructure. The Guyanese government had asked for our support, as the small South American country is slated to become a major oil producer this year, changing its standing in the region dramatically.
API’s ongoing cooperation with Guyana will help it grow its economy and improve its standard of living, while encouraging the adoption of international best practices and training programs to ensure the country’s transition to a major energy producer occurs safely.
API has also struck cooperative agreements with industry groups in India, Mexico and other nations to begin work on a range of topics that include safety, environmental protection, standards promotion and climate change.
We have also signed agreements with governmental agencies to promote industry safety practices.
Last year, API signed memorandums of understanding with the Russian Federal Agency on Technical Regulating and Metrology, as well as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Standardization Organization (GSO), bringing together the largest oil-producing regions in the world to harmonize standards that promote safety, environmental protection and sustainability within the industry.
These efforts will help the industry meet the growing demand for energy around the world, while helping to ensure that suppliers do so by adhering to the safety culture that API standards support.
About The Author
John Siciliano is a writer for API Global Industry Services’ Marketing and Communications Department. He joined API after 14 years as an energy and environment reporter and editor. Most recently, he was senior energy and environment writer for the Washington Examiner and the Daily on Energy newsletter. He began full-time reporting in Washington in 2001 as a foreign affairs correspondent, also covering national security and defense. His coverage of the Mideast and Saudi Arabia led him to become a full-time energy reporter. He earned a bachelors degree in psychology from Ohio Northern University, and he also holds a Masters of Science degree in education from the Franciscan University of Steubenville.
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