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OIL INDUSTRY - LEARNING FROM BP'S MISTAKE

Photo of Brant Stogner

According to many experts in the oil and gas industry, the industry has not yet incorporated many of the lessons learned from the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster. According to government officials, industry veterans, and environmental experts, the industry needs better technology and better testing procedures to prevent blowouts from happening at all. Additionally, the same experts are noting that the industry clearly does not currently have the technology to deal with a blowout after it happens.

Pointing to the problems with capping the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the experts are noting that it could be years before we have the technology to effectively cap oil leaks that occur thousands of feet below the surface of the water. Additionally, cleaning up the oil once it reaches the surface has also posed a major problem with the Deepwater Horizon clean-up effort. Even with the massive fleet of skimmers used during the clean-up, the process is limited in its effectiveness and is very time-consuming.

Perhaps more importantly, the experts are noting that preventing another such disaster will require a complete overhaul in the oil and gas industry's safety culture. With regards to learning from the BP disaster, testimony before the federal investigative panel showed that real-time data from the rig was available to BP managers on shore, but not to Transocean or any other parties. Many experts are calling for this real-time data to be made available other groups, such as industry experts, a safety consortium, or government safety officials. Such a change in the industry would allow other safety experts to analyze the readings from the rigs and possibly prevent another disaster.

Even the clean-up protocol needs to be revamped. In the BP disaster, BP is playing a major role in the clean-up of the spill. Retired Coast Guard Admiral, Thad Allen, who was in charge of the government's response to the crisis, recently proposed that in the event of another similar disaster, a third party from the oil and gas industry is appointed to coordinate the clean-up. In other words, we should appoint a neutral party, which does not have an interest in the polluter's profits, to coordinate the clean-up.

There are many lessons to be learned from the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster; however, preventing another catastrophe will depend on the industry's willingness to learn from it.

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