The paper will consider the implementation of the Safety Case in the oil and gas industry in Australia, and internationally, post the Macondo and Montara incidents.
The National Commission Report into the Deepwater Horizon / Macondo blowout stated:
"The immediate causes of the Macondo well blowout ……. that reveal such systematic failures in risk management that they place in doubt the safety culture of the entire industry. "
In their letter to Minister Ferguson on 22 March 2011, the NOPSA Board stated:
"The Montara and Macondo incidents each demonstrate technical ignorance and a poor safety culture including complacency regarding low probability, high consequence risks. There is a clear need to improve industry safety culture, accountability and leadership. "
The paper will examine these criticisms and consider how the industry could improve its process safety and risk management. The implementation of a Safety Case in the USA may only occur "in the typical rule-making process that takes up to two years" (Michael Bromwich, Director of BOEMRE). Knowledge, understanding and application of key aspects of process safety management and the preparation and implementation of the Safety Case process are not uniform. The paper will suggest how, in this context, the Safety Case can be applied to achieve the improved outcomes.
The paper will draw from specific findings from the Macondo and Montara incidents. In particular, and of some concern, there are echoes and parallels of the Piper Alpha disaster in the performance of emergency systems on Deepwater Horizon. Inadequate application of hazardous area classification is a key issue which the paper will discuss in order to provide greater understanding. Whilst in Australia, issues of competency, consistency and quality arise with matters such as performance standards. The paper will discuss the need for an industry accepted standard for "performance standards" that goes beyond current regulatory guidelines.
Overall, the paper will seek to propose a way forward for the industry in several practical areas.