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Oil and gas execs meet with feds on drilling safety

Officials from the federal agencies that oversee offshore drilling met with Houston oil and gas executives late last month to discuss the recent accidents that have occured off the coast of Texas and Louisiana. The purpose of the meeting was to encourage better communication between the feds and company heads, not to impose stricter enforcement measures.

The head of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said the recent offshore drilling accidents in the Gulf don't necessarily mean that policy change is needed. Instead, he said that ofhsore drilling is an important part of the economy, and one that carries inherent risks that must be controlled.

The bureau head also said that safety challenges were brought up by the oil and gas executives, including those specifically associated with shallow water drilling. Additionally, he said that the group agreed that better communication from federal agencies following accidents -- such as what went wrong and how to avoid similar accidents -- would be helpful.

There were several accidents that led to the recent meeting, including:

  • a Nov. 16, 2012 explosion and fire 20 miles off the Louisiana coast that left three Grand Isle Shipyard workers dead and several others injured;
  • a Feb. 4, 2013 near-accident on an Apache Corp. well that resulted in workers activating the blowout preventer;
  • a July 8, 2013 incident in which five workers were evacuated from an inactive, 40-year-old production platform after gas condensate began escaping from a well; and
  • a July 23, 2013 natural gas well blowout off the coast of Louisiana that resulted in a fire but caused no injuries.

While industry executives and even government officials might see the economic benefits of oil and gas drilling as the primary concern, they need to remember that human lives are put at risk performing these dangerous jobs. Therefore, safety should be the No. 1 concern when it comes to offshore oil and gas drilling.

Source: FuelFix, "Feds meet with Houston oil execs about Gulf accidents," Emily Pickrell, Aug. 1, 2013

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