UpdateUS oil group ‘deeply concerned’ by Gulf spill report

11 January 2011 16:03  [Source: ICIS news]

BP spill site(adds paragraphs 1-10)

HOUSTON (ICIS)--A US petroleum industry trade group said on Tuesday that it was “deeply concerned” by recommendations from the US presidential commission on the BP oil spill, arguing that the industry had already taken significant steps to improve safety.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) said it was pleased the commission was recommending increased funding for offshore oil regulators.

However, the group noted that it was “deeply concerned that the commission’s report casts doubt on an entire industry based on its study of a single incident”.

“This does a great disservice to the thousands of men and women who work in the industry and have the highest personal and professional commitment to safety,” said API upstream director Erik Milito.

“We hope the administration recognises the work already done and the need to rapidly restore vibrancy to the nation’s offshore oil and natural gas production programme,” he added. “Both the nation’s energy security and our recovering economy demand it.”

The API said numerous steps had been taken by the industry to further improve safety in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster.

Moreover, the API was in the process of creating an industry safety programme for deepwater operations that will help drive a “culture of excellence” throughout the offshore industry, it said.

“The explosion was a tragic accident that never should have happened,” said Milito.

“But an accurate assessment must acknowledge all the facts, such as the numerous concrete actions that industry has taken both before and since the accident to identify and implement additional safeguards, as well as the many recommendations made by the industry that have already been adopted by the government and industry,” he added.

The API statement came after the US presidential commission issued its full report on Tuesday morning. BP did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The report laid blame at the door of BP and its two subcontractors, Halliburton and Transocean, criticising those three companies for management failures and the proximate cause of the rig fire and resulting well leak.

“Our investigation shows that a series of specific and preventable human and engineering failures were the immediate causes of the disaster,” said commission co-chair William Reilly.

The voluminous report made multiple recommendations, including a call for the US Congress to revamp offshore oil regulatory authority at the Department of the Interior, and to insure that industry operators pay the costs of the expanded oversight role by the department.

The report also called on the oil and gas industry to create to its own self- policing safety and technology institute aimed at adopting, developing and enforcing standards of excellence to insure continuous improvement in safety and operational integrity offshore.

“Much as the aviation, chemical, and nuclear power industries have done in response to disasters, the oil and gas industry must move towards developing a notion of safety as a collective responsibility,” the report said.

It cited the nuclear power industry response to the 1979 Three Mile Island power plant accident and the subsequent creation by the industry of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations.

In addition, the report recommended that 80% of the penalties that ultimately may be assessed as a result of the Deepwater Horizon spill should be dedicated to long term, region-wide restoration of the Gulf of Mexico.

The explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on 20 April 2010 killed 11 workers. It caused a huge oil leak, which led to the largest spill in US Gulf history before it was plugged in August.

Additional reporting by Joe Kamalick

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By: Ben DuBose
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