Politics overrides safety

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Why has the Australian government refused to release the investigation report into the Montara oil spill?

SafetyAtWorkBlog’s interest in this report is principally over the identification of potential risk control measures that could reduce the chances of another deep-sea oil rig exploding or identify any design or safety features that could stop such a savage leak of oil into the community.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported on 12 August 2010 about the devastation to East Timor’s fishing and seaweed industries as a result of the spill in 2009 .  An earlier media report about Indonesia seeking compensation for its seaweed beds is available HERE.

The Australian Resources Minister, Martin Ferguson, said on 11 August 2010:

“The lessons to be learned from Montara, and I might say the Gulf [of Mexico], create a clear need in a very sensitive, important national industry, both environmentally, economically and from a health and safety point of view, for a strong single national regulator that’s well resourced and focussed,” ……

This may be the way to go but AAP reports that Ferguson he is refusing to release the investigation report until after the August 2010 general election!! Continue reading “Politics overrides safety”

CSB agrees to investigate the root cause of the BP Deepwater disaster

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The chairman of the Chemical Safety Board (CSB), John Bresland, has formally announced his organisation’s investigation into the BP/Deepwater oil rig disaster.  The experience and professionalism of the CSB is evident in correspondence to the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce where the scope is defined and additional resources anticipated.

The letter identifies those current investigations that may need wrapping up quickly so that resources can be diverted to the BP/Deepwater investigation.  This honesty has the advantage of reinforcing that the CSB  is begin called on to undertake tasks beyond its resource allocation and is clearly an opening pitch for the next funding season, as a chairman should do. Continue reading “CSB agrees to investigate the root cause of the BP Deepwater disaster”

Montara oil spill report will provide clues for handling BP inquiry

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The Montara oil spill in the Timor Sea that lasted for three months in late 2009 was large but affected no countries directly and is certainly a long way from the Gulf of Mexico and BP.  However there are enough similarities for considerable media attention to be focused on the investigative report into the incident that was handed to the Australian Government on 17 June 2010.

The Australian Resources Minister, Martin Ferguson, acknowledged the receipt of the commission of inquiry’s final report but will not be releasing it yet.

Greens Senator Rachel Seiwert has said:

“The release of all information available to date is essential for the development of new regulatory and environmental procedures….  We need to be better prepared to respond to future disasters in our precious marine environment.”

Seiwert has at least acknowledged the global context of the report:

“Halliburton is reported to have carried out cementing work on both the Montara well and the US Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico. The failure of this cementing has been linked in the media to both spills.”

Speculation is that the report will recommend a “single national regulator for off-shore drilling” according to the Australian Financial Review (AFR) on 19 June 2010 (p5. not available online).   Continue reading “Montara oil spill report will provide clues for handling BP inquiry”

Off shore drilling safety will change forever

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The ramifications for corporate America and particularly, the oil industry, from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill are becoming clearer.  In his 15 June 2010, address to the nation, President Obama stated his financial and operational expectations of BP prior to his meeting the company’s CEO, Tony Hayward on 16 June.

In essence, BP will be required to fund compensation for the families of dead and injured workers and those who are suffering economic hardship as a result of action which the President described as “reckless”.  The distrust of BP was evident by the compensation fund, which is likely to be billions of dollars, being administered by a third party.

But the BP spill has changed the way that oil exploration and extraction will occur in American waters.   Continue reading “Off shore drilling safety will change forever”

A personal insight into BP and the corporate approach to safety

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Ross Macfarlane is a regular reader of SafetyAtWorkBlog and an active safety professional in Australia.  Below he provides his perspective on BP’s approach to safety as an ex-employee [links added]:

As an ex-BP employee I am again feeling a strong sense of dismay at what is occurring in the Gulf of Mexico.  The fact that BP appears to be deliberately distancing itself from Deepwater is a further shift from the radical openness policy that prevailed up until the Texas City disaster in 2005.

Prior to Texas City, BP was in the thrall of its charismatic CEO (then Sir John, now Lord Browne,) but since then, it seems to me, it struggles with its identity and its corporate culture.  In 2000, when I became a part of BP with Castrol, I was struck by what I saw as a “Cult of Lord Browne” – Continue reading “A personal insight into BP and the corporate approach to safety”