BSEE issues alert for offshore gas releases
Following a pilot inspection program for offshore oil and gas facilities in the Gulf of Mexico, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has issued a safety alert, warning of the dangers of gas release hazards. During the inspection program BSEE staff found a number of safety hazards, including documented oil or gas accumulations, and working practices that do not fully accommodate the use of pressurized welding enclosures. Eight of the 36 facilities inspected had defects such as a non-operable gas detector or no documentation on the frequency or results of inspections.
On the other hand, high temperature areas were found to be consistently well insulated and out of human reach.
The safety alert makes a number of recommendations, including the implementation of daily and weekly inspection protocols to check for common gas release situations, the implementation of regular inspections or tests of handheld gas detectors, and verification that all personnel and contractors have received the necessary safety training.
BSEE said that in August 2017 Scott Angelle, director of the bureau, had told the agency’s Gulf of Mexico staff to carry out the pilot inspection program, following a 2016 review by the Government Accountability Office of BSEE’s oversight of offshore oil and gas operations. GAO had found that the bureau had been unsuccessful in implementing a risk-based component of its inspection program, BSEE said. The idea behind the pilot program was to make progress towards the implementation of risk-based inspections in 2018.
“There are great safety benefits to having a full cadre of inspection protocols to manage operational risk,” Angelle said. “I saw the critical need for the smart tools necessary to ensure an effective inspection strategy and this protocol helps deliver added safety for all offshore operators.”
BSEE had targeted gas release hazards as an area that warranted closer review.
“Because gas releases can be significant safety risks, BSEE selected those incidents, developed a protocol for those inspections and conducted those targeted inspections during the pilot,” said Lars Herbst, BSEE Gulf of Mexico region director.
- ALAN BAILEY