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US Macondo Investigator on Fact-Finding Visit to UK Oil and Gas Industry

A key US investigation into the Macondo disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 could take into account learning and lessons from the UK.

Investigators from the US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) visited the UK on a fact-finding mission to gain further  understanding of the UK oil and gas industry’s regulatory regime and safety culture. The CSB was particularly interested to learn about the role of regulators, workforce engagement and how asset integrity issues are managed.

Lead CSB investigator Cheryl MacKenzie and colleagues visited Aberdeen on Wednesday 25 April. Among other things,  the CSB team attended the Step Change in Safety Leadership Team meeting. Step Change in Safety, which seeks to make the UK the safest place to work in the worldwide oil and gas industry, is unparalleled elsewhere in the world and the Leadership Team comprises industry, regulators, trade unions and the workforce.

During the visit to Oil & Gas UK they were also brought up to speed with the work of the Well Life Cycle Practices Forum (WLCPF). This group was established by the Oil Spill Prevention and Response Advisory Group (OSPRAG) to provide a permanent platform for industry to share and build good practices around well design, construction and completion. OSPRAG itself was established in the UK in 2010 in response to the Macondo disaster and completed its work last year. They also gained an insight into the UK sector’s asset integrity key performance indicators; part of arrangements for monitoring and measuring major accident risk contributors.

Oil & Gas UK’s health and safety Director, Robert Paterson said: “We were very pleased to welcome representatives from the CSB to learn more about how the UK offshore safety regime works.

“The learning process is very much a two-way thing. The goal-setting safety regime of the UKCS has been in place and has matured since Piper Alpha and is generally regarded as being world class. There is a big focus on workforce involvement and the importance of an effective ‘safety culture’ among workers offshore.

“Likewise, we have learnt much from the Americans and as part of continuous improvement, we continue to implement much of this learning for the long term through bodies such as the WLCPF.”

Lead CSB Investigator Cheryl MacKenzie, said: “This visit has proved very insightful into the way offshore safety is managed in the UK. We are here to learn about good safety practices that have been developed overseas and may be applicable to the Gulf and other US drilling and production efforts.
"We are particularly interested in learning about systems that have been developed overseas for the reporting of lagging and leading safety indicators for major accident prevention.

"This trip is a key fact-finding effort in preparation for the CSB's July 23/24 public hearing on process safety indicators that could be used offshore in the US to assist industry and regulators in improving safety performance.

"We truly appreciate the hospitality and openness of Oil & Gas UK and Step Change in Safety in sharing their practices and current endeavours."