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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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The Misleading ‘Rollback’ Narrative on COVID-19 Compliance

regulation  safe operations  public health 

Sam Winstel

Sam Winstel
Posted April 2, 2020

The health and safety of workers, communities and the environment is always a priority for the natural gas and oil industry, and never more so during a global pandemic. That’s why API requested temporary relief for non-essential compliance requirements from the White House and several federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Sadly, reasonable efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) among the energy workforce have been misconstrued by some as “regulatory rollbacks.” This blatantly political narrative is misleading, not to mention inconsistent with public health recommendations. As businesses and regulators adapt to changing circumstances – and implement physical distancing and stay-at-home policies – there may be limited personnel to manage the full scope of some non-essential requirements, but the commitment to safety and sustainability remains unchanged.

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Temporary Relief – To Prioritize Safety and Meet U.S. Energy Needs

regulation  safe operations  public health 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted March 27, 2020

America’s natural gas and oil industry is asking a number of federal agencies to allow a temporary pause in certain non-essential federal compliance requirements, because it’s likely there will be limited numbers of industry workers to manage them amid federal and state-directed efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The health and safety of our workers and their communities is this industry’s No. 1 priority. These non-essential requirements reflect that and primarily include recordkeeping, training, flexibility in the timing of routine inspections where there might be manpower issues due to the pandemic and other non-safety provisions.

Industry is not soliciting a regulatory rollback or trying to excuse itself from compliance obligations.

Rather, it asks federal officials to consider that industry, along with every other segment of our society, is focused on slowing the virus’ spread.

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Energy Industry Preparedness & Response to COVID-19

safe operations  fuel supply  workforce 

Sam Winstel

Sam Winstel
Posted March 20, 2020

As the world copes with a mounting health and economic crisis, America’s natural gas and oil industry remains focused on preserving the health and safety of its workers and delivering critical energy supplies to communities across the country. As an industry, we are committed to operating safely and reliably despite the unpredictable circumstances, implementing contingency plans that ensure the continuity of fuels to market.

These were points of emphasis by emergency preparedness experts at leading energy trade associations during a joint press conference this week that detailed industry readiness and response during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic (listen here).

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Helping Build a Safe, Sustainable Energy Future for Guyana

api standards program  safe operations  offshore technology 

Debra Phillips

Debra Phillips
Posted November 18, 2019

As part of ongoing efforts to foster safe energy development around the world through the sharing of international industry standards and operational expertise, API is helping the country of Guyana as it builds its national energy plan – a key step in the South American nation becoming a major energy producer.

API and the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (IOGP) recently led talks in Guyana’s capital, Georgetown, after the Guyanese government asked for support as the country nears its first-ever oil production, expected in the first quarter of 2020.

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Safety, Environmental Protection Key in New API-Saudi Technical Partnership

api standards program  safe operations  saudi arabia 

Debra Phillips

Debra Phillips
Posted October 22, 2019

Safety, security, environmental protection and sustainability in global oil and natural gas operations are the broad objectives of a first-ever partnership between API and the Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization (SASO) – outlined in a recently signed Technical Collaboration Program.

The new collaboration with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on standards development underscores API’s ongoing commitment to help promote these shared goals worldwide through our industry standards programs.

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For Public Health, Safe Operations in Colorado – And Everywhere

colorado  safe operations  industry standards  regulation  emission reductions 

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted October 18, 2019

There’s nothing more important to our industry than protecting health and safety – of our skilled workers and the communities where they are engaged in supplying Americans with affordable energy for every aspect of modern life and economic well-being.

As energy companies, we know that maintaining the public’s trust and the permission to operate hinge on our ability to work safely and responsibly – caring for the environment, reducing our footprint and continually improving technologies and operations to reduce emissions.

This is the context as we consider a new report on the potential public health effects of natural gas and oil operations by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), using 2015 data to model impacts.

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Rigorous Science to Protect Public Health and Safety

public health  safe operations  science 

Uni Blake

Uni Blake
Posted September 4, 2019

The natural gas and oil industry cares about the health and safety of the communities where it operates. These are our homes and communities, too – places where we’re raising our families. Getting health and safety right is more than just business. It’s a major focus of our industry’s engagement with communities, as we earn and sustain the permission to safely develop natural gas and oil. 

As part of this engagement, industry is mindful of the safety, health and welfare of surrounding communities, to ensure careful decision-making related to our health and safety responsibilities. We’re guided by high-quality science. We employ and work with scientists, including toxicologists and epidemiologists, so that our analyses are well-founded.

As a scientist myself, let me be clear: We must rely on real science as a basis for sound decision-making so that as we operate the public and the environment are protected. Unscientific material – such as opinion pieces, unfinished studies and misinformation campaigns – isn’t helpful to this process, creates false narratives and can skew public perceptions.  

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Trans-Alaska Pipeline Inspected by First FAA-Approved Beyond-Visual-Line-of-Sight UAS

technology innovation  Pipeline  alaska  safe operations 

Sam Winstel

Sam Winstel
Posted August 16, 2019

Researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks made history last month by completing the first true beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) flight under the small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) rule. The team flew a long-range hybrid-electric unmanned aircraft nearly four miles along the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) as part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) UAS Integration Pilot Program – and in partnership with Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.

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Safe + Sound Operations Built on Industry Standards

Safety  standards  safe operations  safety standards 

Sam Winstel

Sam Winstel
Posted August 14, 2019

API is proud to again partner with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to host the agency’s annual “Safe + Sound Week,” a nationwide event focused on raising awareness and understanding of the importance of safety and health programs in the workplace.

It’s an initiative the natural gas and oil industry fully appreciates and works continuously to advance. Safety is a core industry commitment. It’s fundamental to protecting our workers, the communities that host natural gas and oil development and the environment, each of which help sustain our permission to operate.  

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