Ocean Energy Safety Advisory Committee Sets Goals, Agenda

Drilling, workplace safety, source containment and clean-up are top priorities

Last edited 09/29/2021

WASHINGTON – Calling the Deepwater Horizon disaster a technological wake-up call for both the offshore industry and government regulators, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today urged the members of the Ocean Energy Safety Advisory Committee (OESC) to work together to help strengthen the nation's offshore drilling safety, well containment, and spill response as we explore new energy frontiers.

The inaugural meeting of the OESC also heard from Deputy Secretary David J. Hayes and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) Director Michael R. Bromwich, who emphasized the depth and breadth of the group's research and recommendation mandate.

“In the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, many have recognized the need for more collaboration among government, industry and academia to develop cutting-edge, effective, and easily deployable technologies for prevention, containment and response,” Secretary Salazar said. “This committee, with some of the nation's brightest minds from all three areas, will facilitate future cooperation and assist the Department in implementing our offshore drilling safety reform agenda.”

“We are grateful that Tom Hunter and the Ocean Energy Safety Advisory Committee will aid the Department of the Interior in implementing our offshore drilling safety reform agenda and we are committed to taking full advantage of collaboration across industry, academia, the government and NGOs to enhance offshore drilling safety going forward,” Deputy Secretary Hayes said.

"The Safety Committee is an important part of our continuing efforts to reduce the risks associated with offshore energy production on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf,” said BOEMRE Director Bromwich. “I look forward to the Committee's recommendations as we continue to move toward safer, more environmentally responsible offshore energy development and production."

The group's first meeting included presentations from three expert panels on the findings and recommendations of the President's Commission on the BP Oil Spill, the investigations into the causes of the Deepwater Horizon blowout by the National Academy of Engineering/National Research Council Committee and the Chief Counsel of the President's Commission, and the lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon containment and response efforts.

The OESC is a public federal advisory body composed of the nation's leading scientific, engineering and technical experts. The group consists of 15 members from federal agencies, the offshore oil and gas industry, academia and various research organizations who will advise the Secretary, through the BOEMRE Director, on matters and actions relating to offshore energy safety, including drilling and workplace safety, blowout containment and spill response. The Committee may form technical working groups to conduct various aspects of this analysis and recommend, technical experts from a variety of disciplines in the public and private sectors to serve on each working group.

Committee representatives from the offshore industry are: Charlie Williams, Chief Scientist for Well Engineering and Production Technology, Shell Oil Company; Paul Siegele, President, Chevron's Energy Technology Company; Joseph Gebara, Senior Manager, Structural Engineer, Technip USA, Inc.; and Don Jacobsen, Senior Vice President – Operations, Noble Drilling Services, Inc.

Committee members representing the academic community and non-governmental organizations are: Nancy Leveson, Professor, System Safety and Process Safety, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Richard Sears, Senior Science and Engineering Advisor and Chief Scientist, National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling; Tad Patzek, Professor and Chairman, Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering, University of Texas at Austin; and Lois Epstein, Arctic Program Director, The Wilderness Society.

Federal Government designees on the committee are: Walter Cruickshank, the Deputy Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, Department of the Interior; Christopher Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil and Natural Gas in the Office of Fossil Energy, Department of Energy; CAPT. Patrick Little, Commanding Officer, Marine Safety Center, U.S. Coast Guard; Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator for Solid Waste and Emergency Response, Environmental Protection Agency; David Westerholm, Director, Office of Response and Restoration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.; and Steve Hickman, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior.

More information about the committee meeting is available at: http://www.boemre.gov/mmab/EnergySafety.htm.

A Fact Sheet on oil and gas reform efforts is at: http://on.doi.gov/hqfIbS


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