US safety board looks at regulatory changes in Deepwater probe

12 July 2012 23:54  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) may recommend an overhaul of safety regulations in its probe of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig explosion, according to an agency document released on Thursday.

“Regulatory reform is an area of interest emerging from the CSB’s investigation of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident,” according to the agency’s 2012-2016 strategic plan.

The CSB plans to hold a two-day hearing on 23-24 July in Houston to release the preliminary findings of its investigation of the Macondo well blowout, explosion and fire in the Gulf of Mexico.

“As part of its investigation the CSB is analysing various options for modifying the current regulatory framework for chemical safety on off-shore oil drilling platforms,” the board said in its strategic plan.

“Among other considerations, the CSB is weighing the advantages and disadvantages of replacing the current regulatory scheme with the use of a safety case model.”

A safety case model is generally defined as a structured argument that presents evidence intended to demonstrate that a system is safe.

Regarding oil rigs, such a model could put the burden on companies to come up with a plan to determine the ways in which something could go wrong on a rig, and then show practices and technologies that could be used to avoid or deal with the problems, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Such a system is used in the UK.

The CSB said it held a public hearing on international regulatory regimes and heard testimony from regulators from the UK, Norway, and Australia on the strengths and weaknesses of various international regulatory systems. The board also heard testimony from labour and industry representatives about key challenges facing the sector.

The rig exploded in April 2010, killing 11 people and causing a massive oil spill. BP operated the Deepwater Horizon, and Transocean owned it.

By: Brian Ford
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