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Offshore drillers must step up on safety now

News Article Sponsored by Safety Dimension LLC

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Written by: Chris Tomlinson

Click HERE to Read Article From Publisher


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The time has come  for the offshore drilling industry to to put its money where its mouth is and fulfill its promise to operate safely.

For a decade, the industry has known that the four-foot long bolts used to hold a well together at the bottom of the ocean are breaking unexpectedly. These broken bolts have caused only minor spills so far, but could potentially cause another catastrophe like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The three primary suppliers of the bolts all have Houston ties: Houston-based National Oilwell Varco; Cameron, a Houston company acquired by oil services giant Schlumberger; and General Electric Oil & Gas, which has its Americas headquarters in Houston.

Frustratingly, the brilliant engineers at these firms, who can achieve miracles when it comes to making money for oil companies, still haven’t figured how to fix this problem, which could effect every deep-water well in the world.

That’s why  Brian Salerno, the federal bureaucrat in charge of offshore safety, urged the industryon Monday to get its act in gear and figure out why these bolts are breaking, how to prevent them from breaking in the future and come up with a schedule for replacing the old ones.

“Fortunately, as of today we’ve had no major catastrophes from bolt failures,” Salerno, director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement at the Department of the Interior, said. “We believe it may only be a matter of time before our luck runs out.”

It’s hard to know whether the slow pace to finding a solution is caused by industry complacency or a sincere argument over whether over-torqued bolts or stress is to blame for the premature corrosion, stripped threads and snapped bolts. But last month Salerno wrote a letter to the American Petroleum Institute suggesting the problem is industry slow-peddling.

“I am concerned the industry is not moving quickly enough given the potential for catastrophic failure,” he wrote.

API, which sets design standards for undersea oil and gas equipment, says its working toward a solution, as did the bolt manufacturers. But after a decade, it’s time for a little less talk, and a little more action.

The offshore drilling industry still hasn’t won back the trust of the American people since the Deepwater Horizon accident. The industry shouldn’t be surprised to know there is no tolerance for another major mistake. One would think they’d move faster to prevent one.


TAGS: Oil, Gas, Offshore


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Written by: Chris Tomlinson

Click HERE to Read Article From Publisher

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