Energy & Technology

Improvements in Systemic Risk Management of Offshore Oil and Gas Operations in Gulf of Mexico Since Deepwater Horizon Disaster, with Some Areas Still Lacking Progress

According to a report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the offshore oil and gas industry operating in the Gulf of Mexico has made significant progress in managing systemic risk. The report assessed both industry and regulatory progress against the reforms recommended after the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010. The report found that many of the key reforms have been adopted, including the creation of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the introduction of safety and environmental management systems. However, progress has been uneven, and there are still critical gaps in addressing the management of systemic risk offshore.

The report highlights the need for the industry to work collectively to enhance its safety culture, to develop standards and regulations that address the management of contingent barriers and use human factors standards, and to share near-miss data. The report also notes that the industry needs to make progress in applying real-time monitoring, automation, and operational data to enhance safety decision-making.

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The study was funded by the Gulf Research Program, a science-based program that seeks to enhance offshore energy system safety and protect human health and the environment. The study was undertaken by the National Academies’ Committee on Progress and Opportunities Toward Decreasing the Risk of Offshore Energy Operations. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, engineering, and medicine.

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