High time to get familiar with the safety case regime for the Gulf of Mexico

If you have worked internationally, you may already be familiar with the concept of operations management by safety cases. If your experience is solely based in the US, then it may be time to prime yourself and assess your knowledge in this area. While the level or degree of implementation is currently far from certain, there are enough announcements and official panel reviews in Washington to indicate that the US oil and gas industry will face a new set of rules resembling safety case regimes.

You do not need to become an expert, or have made HSE your career, to know and understand the basics of safety cases.  The reason all of us need to understand it to some extent is that this set of standards will affect all levels and all areas in operations, not just the experts who make it their main career field.

What is the safety case regime?  In a nutshell it puts the burden of proof on the operator to show

  • with a degree of certitude that hazards and risks, which could lead to major accidents or events, have been identified and
  • that appropriate technical and control measures are identified to reduce the risk to defined acceptable levels.

The key difference compared to existing rules is that the operator has to show that he has systems, tools and remedies in place which are designed for the risks identified BEFORE approval for operations is granted.

There is more, much more, and there is plenty of information available elsewhere on the web. This will not be a cheap or an easy undertaking, but the industry has the wherewithal to handle this. It will take people (that means you!) becoming educated and prepared now to help their organizations with implementing this entire new philosophy of conducting business.

Handling this transformation will require a huge number of process reviews, consultations, implementation and monitoring of the new processes. Oh, did I mention that the appropriate government agencies responsible in the future will want third-party reviews, audits and routine reporting? Endless career opportunities for some time to come from where we stand …


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