Wednesday, April 21, 2010

API reaffirms oil and gas industry commitment to safety

While the US Coast Guard searched for workers missing after an explosion and fire on a semisubmersible rig off Louisiana, American Petroleum Institute Pres. Jack N. Gerard told reporters in Houston that safety is the oil and gas industry’s top priority.

“Every time an incident happens, we ask ourselves what we can do better,” Gerard said. “We’re working for a zero-injury, zero-fatality effort.” Industry considers workers to be its “most sacred” asset, he added.

April has been marred by accidents, both upstream and downstream. An Apr. 2 explosion in a naphtha hydrotreater within Tesoro Corp.’s 120,000-b/d refinery at Anacortes, Wash., killed six employees. The hydrotreater was undergoing maintenance at the time (OGJ Online, Apr. 5, 2010).

On Apr. 12, the United Steelworkers issued a news release saying the refinery industry fails to learn from past disasters. The union called on refiners to develop and implement policies requiring full safety reviews before all process start-ups and scheduled shutdowns.

Gerard said API devotes much of its staff’s attention to safety, adding that API’s activities involve research, standards development and reviews as well as training efforts and information transfers.

On Apr. 20-21, Gerard was in Houston to speak to the local API chapter and to brief reporters. He told reporters that his thoughts were with the families of 11 missing workers.

An explosion and fire rocked the Transocean Ltd. Deepwater Horizon rig at about 10 p.m. CDT Apr. 20. The semi was drilling for BP Exploration & Production Inc. on Mississippi Canyon Block 252 about 41 miles off Louisiana.

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