“Best Available and Safest Technologies for Offshore Oil and Gas Operations: Options for Implementation” by the National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Council (NAE/NRC), was released on October 28.
The report answers a Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) request for recommendations for better ways to implement best available and safest technology (BAST) for offshore oil and gas operations. The agency is obligated by law to require BAST wherever practicable. The NAE/NRC analysis focused on options for the Ocean Energy Safety Institute (OESI), which was in the planning stages at BSEE.
Coincidentally, a few days after the NAE/NRC report was released, BSEE announced the selection of the universities that would manage the OESI: Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, in partnership with Texas A&M University and the University of Houston, will manage the Institute under a $5 million, 5-year agreement with BSEE. The Institute will develop a program of research, technology development and education.
The NAE/NRC findings and recommendations included:
- Industry competition to produce from deeper-water and higher-pressure systems drives new technologies that may become BAST. This means that the government needs industry assistance to implement BAST.
- BSEE should expand its safety reporting system to include near misses and identification of the potential impacts of human error, to increase identification of BAST. The idea is that learning only from rare, major incidents is inadequate.
- BSEE should consider regulatory or legislative incentives to speed development and deployment of new technologies.
- BSEE should take advantage of industry expertise to compensate for government inability to compete for the best staff.
The Institute was recognized as a way to improve BAST, but the NAE/NRC concluded that the Institute needed a more stable structure and a larger budget to accomplish its goals.
Other recommendations made by NAE/NRC included: developing worldwide test facilities and hiring a chief engineer or chief scientist. More meaningful stakeholder involvement was also recommended.