BSEE labels subsea bolt, connector failures a ‘high priority’

Offshore staff

WASHINGTON, D.C. – About 70 individuals from the offshore industry, government, academia, and environmental organizations recently gathered in Washington, D.C. to discuss the reliability of bolts, connectors, and other fastener systems used in safety equipment for oil and gas operations.

The half-day forum included welcoming comments by Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Director Brian Salerno, opening remarks by Interior Department Assistant Secretary Janice Schneider, and a keynote address by National Academy of Sciences President Dr. Marcia McNutt.

“There is urgency with this issue due to recognition of a systematic problem,” Salerno told the audience, “and the potential for a catastrophic event. We need to determine the breadth and scope of the issue as well as the root causes of the problem in order to respond appropriately. We are in this together with (the American Petroleum Institute) and the standards setting organizations, as well as industry and BSEE’s interagency partners.”

Two panels of experts followed the opening remarks. The first panel discussed BSEE’s response to specific connector failure incidents and what research has been undertaken to date. The second panel was more broadly focused, describing efforts by the offshore industry to address bolt failures as well as a discussion of similar issues faced by the aerospace and nuclear industries.

Given the serious nature of the failures and the potential harm such failures can cause, BSEE has identified bolt and connector failures as a high priority. The bureau said it has taken steps including work with original equipment manufacturers, a BSEE Safety Alert, a quality control study, and a call to industry to “develop better standards and practices and to be proactive in remedying the defects” seen in bolt failures.


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