BSEE employs data analysis to manage risk, make operations safer

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HOUSTON – The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has released a report highlighting first-year results of the Risk-Based Inspection (RBI) Program. The program employs a protocol of targeted, risk-focused inspections to supplement BSEE’s existing schedule of inspections on production facilities and active drilling operations. Using data analysis to identify higher-risk operations, BSEE is able to effectively direct additional inspections and resources where needed. These focused field inspections also allow BSEE to verify that operators are properly identifying, managing and mitigating risks.

The Risk-Based Inspection Program Assessment Report analyzes the implementation of the program and the steps taken by BSEE to increase effectiveness of this inspection tool first implemented in March 2018. The report also chronicles the 82 risk-based inspections completed during 2018 and the 30-40 now in the planning stage. These supplemental inspections were conducted in addition to the over 10,300 regularly scheduled inspections BSEE conducted in Calendar Year 2018.

“We are looking beyond regulation to improve the way that safe and responsible offshore exploration, development, and production are conducted on the Outer Continental Shelf,” said BSEE Director Scott Angelle during a presentation to the Center for Offshore Safety at the 2019 Offshore Technology Conference in Houston. “BSEE is incorporating technology, directed data collection and data analysis into our programs, and our decision-making process, as part of the continuing effort to make operations safer and smarter.”

Director Angelle emphasized the importance of the RBI Program during April 4, 2019, testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Appropriations for the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. Angelle addressed the $5.5 million funding increase included in the President’s FY 2020 budget request, explaining the Bureau’s plan to expand the program with enhanced monitoring of facility and operational risk profiles, and the development of a means for continued improvement in risk management offshore to improve safety.

“Implementing a risk-based inspection protocol is a move toward safer and smarter management of oil and gas operations on the Outer Continental Shelf,” said BSEE Risk-Based Inspections Program lead Jason Mathews. “And we appreciate BSEE Director Angelle raising expectations and demanding performance in this important effort. The program allows BSEE to direct additional inspection resources to relatively higher risk/higher consequence facilities, to better protect workers and the environment.”

The RBI Program is part of the BSEE’s expanding strategy of innovative, collaborative programs driving increased safety performance and environmental stewardship. Another key component of this strategy is a near miss and equipment failure-reporting program, known as SafeOCS.

“The Trump Administration inherited a four percent participation rate in the voluntary SafeOCS program, said Angelle. “Through a focused outreach effort BSEE has increased participation to 85% of all oil producers on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.”

As detailed in the 2018 Assessment Report, the RBI process does not end with the physical field inspection. At the conclusion of each facility-based inspection, BSEE meets with the operator to discuss preliminary findings and exchange feedback, and follows up with a written report of findings. BSEE also requires each operator to develop a corrective action plan to address any deficiencies. The Bureau also issues a safety alert in the wake of each round of performance-based risk inspections to provide findings and recommendations, ensuring that the lessons learned are shared across the offshore industry.


Kabir Ismail is a blogger, website developer/administrator and a comrade.

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