BP ups the ante on drilling safety

In its bid to resume Gulf of Mexico drilling, BP is promising to implement even stricter drilling standards than the feds are requiring.

The oil giant said July 15 that it’s learned lessons from last year’s tragic Deepwater Horizon explosion, noting that a new set of voluntary deepwater oil and gas drilling standards for its Gulf operations will demonstrate the company’s commitment to safe and reliable operations.
The announcement was made in a letter to Michael Bromwich, the director of the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.

The new voluntary standards are:

•BP will use, and will require its contractors involved in drilling operations to use, subsea blowout preventers equipped with no fewer than two blind shear rams and a casing shear ram on all drilling rigs under contract to BP for deepwater service operating in dynamic position mode.

•Each time a subsea BOP from a moored or dynamically-positioned drilling rig is brought to the surface and testing and maintenance on the BOP are conducted, BP will require that a third party verify that the testing and maintenance of the BOP were performed in accordance with manufacturer recommendations and industry recommended practice.

•BP will require that laboratory testing of cement slurries for primary cementing of casing and exposed hydrocarbon-bearing zones relating to drilling operations of deepwater wells be conducted or witnessed by a BP engineer competent to evaluate such laboratory testing, or a competent third party independent of the cement provider. BP will provide laboratory results to the applicable BOEMRE field office within a reasonable period of time.

•BP’s Oil Spill Response Plan will include information about enhanced measures for responding to a spill in open water, near-shore response and shoreline spill response.

The Times-Picayune reported that BOEMRE’s Bromwich said some of these higher standards might be included in new safety rules that his agency will adopt using a lengthier rule-making process, but that he would not want to act to impose new requirements before then. He did, however, say that it was technologically possible and economically feasible for BP and the rest of the Big Five oil companies to adopt the new rules. — Leslie Turk

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