API Subcommittee 2 stewards the API Series 2 Recommended Practices and Specification for offshore structures. The Series 2 documents are in the process of realignment. Coupled with several new documents, considerable expansion of key existing RP sections and the impact of recent hurricanes, a considerable change in look, feel and content is underway. The two primary foci for SC 2 consist of providing standards for US waters and leading the US input into the ISO 19900 series of offshore standards.
The paper will outline the various components and drivers for the ongoing Subcommittee 2 strategies. These include alignment with the ISO 19900 series (to minimize time and expense of maintaining multiple standards), adjusting to US regulatory changes, incorporating into industry practices the lessons learned from recent hurricanes, while reflecting the effects of the shifts in infrastructure capabilities and industry resources.
The history of offshore standards has often been affected by external events. Tropical storms, earthquakes and political unions among others have shaped, and continue to shape, the offshore standards the industry uses today and is developing for the future. As a result of a global strategy developed in the mid-1990's, the API standards are undergoing a comprehensive realignment to better support the broad spectrum of offshore activities and operations in which the industry is engaged today, and is expected to pursue in the future.
The offshore industry has a robust history even though it is just over 60 years old. The early development, both in terms of technology and global breadth was chronicled in 1997 as one element of the industry's 50th anniversary1. Offshore focused standards have just passed their 40th birthday, with the first major standard (RP 2A) issued in 1969. In the ensuing years, standards have evolved into a major aspect of any offshore development encompassing not only good practice but also regulatory and statutory requirements. The American Petroleum Institute (API) has been an integral part of this activity from publishing the first standard, which was focused on a specific region, to supporting today's global standard efforts. While everyday references to its recommended practices might portray API as a standard setting entity, API is in reality the pole of aggregation that provides coordination and a publishing venue for the collaborative work of many diverse oil and gas industry individuals, who provide a vast array of expertise and represent the interests of large multi-national organizations as well as those of individual consultants. It is this vast composite of the industry that really drives the content and direction of the documents that capture the industry's collective knowledge.
Similarly, it is individuals representing specific expertise and the industry at large who are the prime movers within ISO. Often, ISO is viewed as a monolithic organization dictating what will and will not be done. While this may be partly true in regards to formats, language, document development and balloting procedures, etc., it is certainly not the case for content, topics covered, technical details, etc. Similar to API, the industry comprised of operators, consultants, contractors, regulators, etc. works an agenda, provides the resources and owns the standards. API and ISO administer the structure, the system, the document publication and distribution resources, but the industry participants provide and drive the technical content.