The Macondo disaster and other recent environmental incidents have resulted in a new emphasis on the performance and reliability of BOP (Blowout Preventer) equipment and systems, most specifically in the US Gulf of Mexico (GOM), but also in other drilling regions. Due to the environmental sensitivity of offshore Arctic environments, reliable BOP operation is even more important. These combined factors have led to many industry and regulatory changes in BOP systems, their operation and maintenance. This paper will describe the practical effects of these changes from an independent, third-party verifier’s perspective, including perceived benefits and identified but unintended consequences, together with some possible unintended consequences for the future.
Although the materials presented reflect the author’s experience on offshore floating drilling rigs, some of the contents are applicable to other types of offshore rigs as well as land rigs.