It’s been over five years since the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and in the immediate aftermath there were calls to make it safer to drill and make sure that a similar disaster would be prevented in the future.
It may never be totally safe to drill in the deepwater Gulf, but it’s clear that E&P companies want offshore service contractors who can prove that their businesses, vessels and people are up to the new safety culture and standards that have been created.
Offshore service vessel operators say that they see more demands for safety and management certification from customers. Matthew Rigdon of Jackson Offshore Operators said that with the oil companies subjected to high standards for permits, “that has trickled down to the boat operators.”
And Ben Billings, chief of the Offshore Marine Service Association, said the offshore marine service industry “is safer than it has ever been.”
How? Billings rattled off a list that includes new empowerment of OSV crews to think about and act on safety issues, fleet wide safety management systems, regular drills, training and assessments, vessel inspections and audits, financial safety incentives and information sharing incentives between companies. And the new OSVs that have been built since the Macondo blowout and spill are state-of-the-art safety-laden palaces.
Opinions differ on just how much safer it is now for BP and others to drill offshore, but it’s tough to argue with Billings’ assessment that OSV operators are now safer than ever.