ABSTRACT

Each year we suffer unacceptable losses in offshore drilling rigs. There is no concerted effort within the industry to reduce losses and as a result, insurance rates are extremely high.

The authors suggest that we need to bring insurance underwriters and drilling rig contractors together on a common meeting ground to set up standards for design, construction, operation, and maintenance of offshore rigs. Establishment of realistic and uniform standards and certification of compliance with them will provide a scale of judgment to assist underwriters in setting rates that reflect the actual risk. The following topics are discussed certification criteria, inspections, licensing of personnel, rating of rigs, and the benefits which will result.

It is proposed that the drilling industry initiate action to establish safety standards for offshore mobile drilling rigs. Assistance from professional societies and organizations and insurance underwriters will improve lines of communication and will thereby aid in reducing insurance and in improving the efficiency of operation.

INTRODUCTION

Present loss rates of mobile offshore drilling rigs are unacceptable from the standpoint of personnel casualties, rig down time and outright rig loss. Loss rates, as reflected in ever-rising insurance premiums, are not improving. Unfortunately the concerted effort which is required to reduce the offshore risks to a reasonable and realistic level does not yet appear to be forthcoming from within the industry. The bits and pieces of a comprehensive program for risk reduction do exist, but we need to put together a workable system, extensive in scope, and applicable over the wide geographic expanses covered by the offshore industry. Precedents abound in maritime history for the course of action required in this case. Samuel Plimsoil was instrumental in the creation of Load Line Regulations. His name is immortalized in international shipping circles. Rules of the Road direct mariners of all nations on the high seas; and our Navy instituted a program for the certification of non-military as well as military submarines to provide proper safety for personnel engaged in the art of submarining. The matter of risk reduction in the offshore industry today is clearly of the same or greater magnitude. Mobile offshore rigs operate worldwide in all sea environments; they engage in the basically hazardous operation of drilling for oil and gas, and the complexity of rigs matches or exceeds that of any vehicle within the maritime industry today.

The American Bureau of Shipping has several publications on the classing of offshore equipment, Lloyd?s Register has a program for offshore rigs, and various rig owners have taken action to monitor certain safety aspects related to the operation of their equipment. Recently the SNAME Advisory Group for Ocean Engineering identified Safety of Moveable Oil Drilling Platforms with an A Priority for SNAME attention. But clearly, we are not going far enough. In order to reduce the offshore risk to a minimum we need a voluntary program which will cover all aspects of offshore drilling rigs-design, construction, operation, manning, maintenance, repair and salvage. This is not an easy task.

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