A team of Texas universities and the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station’s (TEES) Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center will manage the newly-formed Ocean Energy Safety Institute (OESI).
The OESI facilitates research and development, training of federal workers on identification and verification of Best Available and Safest Technology (BAST), and implementation of operational improvements in the areas of offshore drilling safety and environmental protection, blowout containment and oil spill response. The OESI is a collaborative initiative involving government, academia and scientific experts.
“The offshore energy industry has significant impact upon our energy security and the national economy,” said United States congressman Bill Flores (R-Texas), “and it is imperative that government, industry and the scientific community work together to address challenges and encourage innovation through technology, risk management, safety and environmental protection. Any government oversight must be rooted in evidence-based research to ensure a sound decision-making process and I believe by including academic partners, this initiative will succeed.”
The five-year agreement, with $5 million in total funding from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), will provide a forum for dialogue, shared learning and cooperative research among academia, government, industry and other non-government organizations in offshore-related technologies and activities that help ensure environmentally safe and responsible offshore operations. TEES is partnering with Texas A&M University, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Houston to manage the institute.
“I look forward to working closely with our partners at the Institute on finding ways to improve safety offshore,” said BSEE Director Brian Salerno. “The Institute will develop a program of research, technical assistance and education that serves as a center of expertise in offshore oil and gas exploration, development, and production technology, including frontier areas, such as high temperature/high pressure reservoirs, deepwater, and Arctic exploration and development.”
The Institute stems from a recommendation from the Ocean Energy Safety Advisory Committee, a federal advisory group comprised of representatives from industry, federal government agencies, non-governmental organizations and the academic community. The Institute will be a source of unbiased, independent information and will not have any regulatory authority over the offshore industry. It will be a collaborative venture that will also include involvement on science and technology issues from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
The Institute will provide recommendations and technical assistance to BSEE related to emerging technologies and the best available and safest technologies. In addition, it will develop and maintain an equipment failure monitoring system and train Federal employees to enable them to remain current on state-of-the-art technology. The Institute will also promote collaboration among Federal agencies, industry, standards organizations, academia, and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Information on issues related to offshore research and best practices will end up shared with industry, government, and the public through Institute held forums.
• Develop a program of research, technical assistance, and education that serves as a center of expertise in offshore oil and gas exploration, development, and production technology, including technology specific to deepwater and Arctic exploration and development.
• Provide recommendations and technical assistance to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) related to emerging technologies and the determination of BAST, and environmentally sound oil and gas development practices on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).
• Provide recommendations and technical assistance related to geological and geophysical sciences relevant to understanding the technical challenges of exploration and development, such as reservoir characteristics, geohazards, and worst case discharge analyses.
• Develop and maintain a domestic and international equipment failure reporting system and database of critical equipment failures related to control of the well that will allow the Institute to identify reliability issues and industry trends. This system should engage the user and manufacturer of the equipment.
• Engage employees of the Federal agencies to participate in research and training to remain current on state-of-the-art technology associated with offshore oil and gas development.
• Promote collaboration among Federal agencies, industry, standards organizations, academia, and the National Academy of Sciences.
• Provide BSEE with reports on all OESI activities on a quarterly basis and at an annual in-person meeting.