This oil spill flowed uncontrollably for three months and is the largest accidental spill in petroleum industry history causing extensive damage to marine and wildlife. It is estimated that it had released about 4.9 million barrels of crude oil before finally being capped and the government declaring the well dead in September 2010.
The Maitland panel report whilst optimistic and highlighted the oil sectors strengths, warns that there is no room for complacency when searching and producing oil and gas from inaccessible deposits. Professor Maitland said “We have found a great many positives in the UK’s safety and environmental regulation, in what is generally regarded as a world-leading regime, whilst identifying areas where there is still scope for further reducing the risks of incidents occurring.”
The UK’s goal-setting safety regime allows industry to identify hazards, assess the risks and manage them with current best practice, fostering innovation and continuous improvement in process integrity, the report goes on to say.
Professor Maitland adds that the UK’s regime is useless if operators aren’t made to do what they say they’ll do and he wants regulators, as part of their normal inspection activities, to check that operators have such plans and are implementing them.
The panel has asked regulators to work with the industry trade body Oil & Gas UK to propose an electronic system that overcomes these issues and allows information to be shared quickly.
Malcolm Webb, Oil & Gas UK’s chief executive, said: “Oil & Gas UK welcomes the Maitland Panel report which acknowledges the particular strengths of the UK’s offshore oil and gas safety and environmental protection regime and highlights that following the Deepwater Horizon incident, UK operators, regulators and other stakeholders re-doubled their efforts to improve their capabilities in these areas.”
Energy Minister Charles Hendry said “The Deepwater Horizon disaster was a tragic reminder of the need for the highest possible standards of safety and environmental control in the oil industry. It is vital for the future of North Sea development that our offshore regulatory regime remains at the forefront of the global industry. I am grateful to Professor Maitland and his panel for producing this thorough assessment, which recognises that we have a regime which is already highly regarded by international observers.”
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Claxton, an Acteon company, is the leading supplier of engineering and services for shallow water, jackup depth markets.