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What BP did after Deepwater Horizon

Thursday, October 24, 2013

After the Deepwater Horizon disaster, BP has re-organised its company so that technical specialists report to a senior technical specialist in the company, not the manager of the asset they are working on, says Bob Fryar, Executive Vice President, safety and operational risk, BP.

''Following the Deepwater Horizon accident, Mark Bly, who was my predecessor as Head of the Safety and Operational Risk function, led the BP internal investigation of the accident, which was conducted by a team including internal and external expertise,'' said Bob Fryar, Executive Vice President, safety and operational risk, BP.

He was speaking at the Oil and Gas UK event in Aberdeen ''Piper 25'' to mark 25 years since the Piper Alpha disaster, on June 18, 2013.

''The Bly Report included 26 recommendations addressing important areas of deepwater drilling, including cementing guidelines, equipment certification, assuring the competence of individuals, and testing of blow-out preventers.

''The recommendations directly addressed the findings of the investigation. For example, they recommend a review of all cementing contractors and new mandatory practices for cementing.

''They recommended revising the relevant BP engineering technical practice to include more details on negative pressure tests, including areas such as success criteria, responsibilities of personnel and configuration of valve positions.

''With regard to blow-out preventers, the recommendations contained new provisions on maintenance, testing and design.''

''The implementation of these recommendations is an ongoing major programme of work within BP. Each recommendation has to be applied across multiple locations -and many require new processes or agreements with contractors.''

''We have broken down each of the recommendations into defined and measurable deliverable actions.''

''The closure of the recommendations is verified by our Safety and Operational Risk audit team, which worked with the Bly report program team to make sure that the deliverables flowing from the recommendations would be verifiable. Closure is also verified by an independent expert who was appointed by BP''s Board of Directors in June 2012.''

''Fourteen of the 26 recommendations are now complete.''

Moving to functional model

BP is re-organising the company. ''We wanted our upstream organization to be structured in a way that would encourage the building of capability and the consistent application of standards across the world, wherever they apply,'' he said.

''We did this by moving from an asset model to a functional model. It means that, instead of organizing the company in regional teams, we organized our upstream in centralized functions that bring together the people who do the same jobs around the world.

''All the explorers report to the head of exploration. All the people who build new projects report to the head of the Global Projects Organization. The people involved in drilling, completions and interventions all report to the head of the Global Wells Organization.''

''A benefit of this is that we can build on our expertise within the teams to deliver excellence in each function and also drive standardization more readily where we wish to do so, with each team using standard procedures. We believe these procedures contribute to consistent implementation and safer execution of work.''


''We also have looked at capability development within the framework of the new functional organisations.''

''Part of this is about technical specialist capability. In our global wells organisation, we have brought deep expertise in house. We now have 12 cementing specialists in the company, as well as the cementing contractors we work with. We also have a team of 30 dedicated solely to BOP reliability.

We have set up the Global Wells Institute, which brings all our Wells training under one roof. The institute emphasises practical, experiential learning and a big part of that learning occurs in the state of the art well simulator area which we have commissioned.

The simulators are used by BP personnel as well as by the contractors who actually drill the wells and who ultimately are responsible for well control. I''m told that the room contains the world''s largest collection of drilling simulators in one space.

The simulators replicate three major operations: the offshore environment, land-based drilling, and workovers. This simulator allows for the observation and assessment of individuals as they manage hypothetical well control incident scenarios.

Supporting drilling operations

We have reviewed our requirements for drilling rigs in service on BP-operated wells. Any proposed departures from those requirements need approval from the appropriate person in our Safety & Operational Risk organisation - what we call S&OR.

We have also set out to use technology to enhance our integrated decision-making on drilling and wells.

In Houston we have created a Monitoring Center that enables offshore crews to consult in real time with onshore experts - viewing the same data and linked by video.

While the responsibility for well monitoring remains with the rig crew, having a monitoring center means more people can be available as resources in a given circumstance. We believe this can lead to more considered decisions by those who have ultimate accountability.

''Accountability for the final decision will always remain with the rig crew - the Monitoring Center is about informed decisions, not collective decisions.''

Spill response

''Since 2010 there has been a strong industry-wide programme of activity in the area of spill response. ''

''At the international level, the Global Industry Response Group was set up and has launched several work-streams. One is looking at data from incidents and communicating good practice, so the entire industry can learn together. Another relates to developing a well capping toolbox. Another is focused on response in general - capturing the lessons we learned in areas such as relief well drilling and crisis management.

''BP has built its own capping stack and other containment equipment. It is stored in Houston but can be mobilised worldwide quickly.''

Safety organisation

"Following the Deepwater Horizon accident, we established a Safety and Operational Risk organization (S&OR). Mark Bly initially headed the organization and I have recently taken over from Mark. "The S&OR organization helps us provide an expert view of safety and risk that is independent of the business and its line management."

"The S&OR team is made up of hundreds of professionals whose focus is on safety and operational risk. Many of these professionals are based around the world alongside our operating businesses.

"The existence of S&OR does not absolve the line managers of responsibility for safety and operational risk. The people who do the work must shoulder that accountability. But we - S&OR - are here to help them manage the risks effectively and to conduct risk-based assurance, and to challenge them where necessary."

The organization has very clear roles: setting clear safety and operational risk requirements; maintaining its independent view of risk, in particular by conducting assurance and audits on the work of the line organization; and providing deep technical expertise, including expertise in engineering, security, safety (both personal safety and process safety), health and the environment; and, if necessary, intervening to cause corrective action based on our independent view.


"We are expecting leaders to spend time in the field and engage with staff on the front line. We are providing them with tools and guidance on how to do that effectively, giving them valuable insights into conformance, barriers and risk management in the operations for which they are responsible."

"We have enriched our leadership team with people who bring experience from other industries with strong records in managing high hazard operations. We have some former NASA astronauts - including one who worked on the Challenger Space Shuttle response. We have former nuclear industry professionals and military safety experts."

"On our Board we have Admiral Skip Bowman who is a former leader of the US Nuclear Submarine navy.''

"We''re now just piloting another program called Leading in the Field which is specifically about how leaders engage staff and inspect operations."

''We have created ways whereby sites can learn from each other, including a program called EXEMPLAR which brings specialist coaches onto sites to help them accelerate in particular areas of OMS (operations management system).

Risk assessment

''We have a single BP-wide required framework within which risks are identified, understood, managed, reduced and if possible eliminated," he said.

"Every BP operation performs an annual review of the risks it faces, refreshed as necessary during the year if there are substantial changes in circumstances. The operation confirms that controls are in place and sets priorities for further reduction or elimination. The output of the work can be captured in a matrix where risks are plotted to show both their potential severity and probability."

"It allows us to set accountabilities for specific risk reduction actions, track the completion of those actions, and confirm when risks have been reduced or eliminated entirely."

"One of the tools we find effective is the bowtie tool - many of you will be familiar with this tool. On the left it shows the barriers we create to prevent incidents - and on the right, the things we do to mitigate the impact if an incident occurs."

"It helps users to understand and manage both prevention barriers and mitigation barriers in place for each risk. This contributes to a deep and consistent understanding of the specific risks and can be used to help drive risk down."


"When it comes to safety, as long as you are careful to maintain clear accountabilities and a clear sense of ownership by decision-makers, two heads can be better than one and three can be better than two,'' he said. "We have a 3 tier approach to assurance.

''As the line is accountable for safety, they conduct self-verification to confirm whether they are conforming to OMS and their barriers are robust, and to enable them to take action as needed.''

''Second, S&OR provides targeted, risk-based assurance by checking to see how the line is meeting requirements and maintaining and operating barriers. We do this on a structured way where we have a set topic, say control of work, where we see how well the line is demonstrating conformance. From looking across the company through these assessments, we can determine if there are points that need to be addressed across the company.''

''Last, we have audit. In addition to the company''s group internal audit team that looks beyond safety and operational risks, we have an audit team which sits inside S&OR and conducts a risk-based programme of regular safety and operations audits of the businesses operating on our OMS. We also audit third party rigs and ships to see if they meet our applicable standards."


In 2008 when we first put the LOPC (losses of primary containment) metric in place we had 658 releases. Last year we had 292. That was a 19% reduction versus 2011.

Process safety events are categorized by tiers depending on their severity, with tier 1 being the most significant. For BP, we saw a 42% reduction in Tier 1 PSEs in 2012 on 2011.

"Tracking this data is only part of BP''s efforts to drive continuous improvement. But I believe the data suggest we are beginning to see the benefits of the various ongoing activities I''ve described. Even one LOPC can have high consequences, and any accident is one too many - and of course there is always more to be done."

Admiral Skip Bowman says ''when you think things are going the best, you should be losing the most sleep''. And of course that is a clear message about never being complacent.

"While we believe these things are making a difference, we also know there is always more to do at BP and in the industry, and we must remain vigilant.The Piper Alpha and Deepwater Horizon accidents remind us all of the consequences when things go wrong. They also provide lessons from which we all can learn and improve."

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