Offshore oil and gas: A sea-change in the Gulf of Mexico

Guest Article ByChad Fuhrmann

Self-regulation in offshore operations is being transformed by US decision makers, providing an important topic of discussion at this year’s OTC Houston.

Self-regulation in offshore operations is being transformed by US decision makers, providing an important topic of discussion at this year’s OTC Houston.

The offshore industry recently marked five years since the devastating Deepwater Horizon incident. The explosion and subsequent oil spill sparked heightened regional and global environmental awareness and increased scrutiny of risk assessment and mitigation procedures, which continues today. Personnel on board and shoreside leaders alike are contemplating a future where universal standards are applied. Guidelines and recommended practices are fast becoming rules and regulations.

The US Coast Guard (USCG) has recently taken the unprecedented step of proposing regulations which directly address the use of dynamic positioning (DP) technology in the offshore industry. Prior to this, DP was a largely self-regulated service. Energy majors and charterers drove operating standards that were based closely on guidelines provided by industry organizations such as International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) and Marine Technology Society (MTS). These guidelines have gradually become the accepted operating criteria for many offshore projects and assets and now form the basis of US regulatory efforts that may impact standards worldwide.

Chad Fuhrmann Chad Fuhrmann, Business Director for the Americas with marine industry specialists Maritime Assurance and Consulting (MAC) has experienced the changes in his region firsthand. He states, “There has always been an understanding of and desire for efficiency through standardization. Even prior to the USCG Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, recommended practice was increasingly recognized across the industry as the new operating standard. The NPRM is just one example of a precedent that has been consistently set by the industry itself over the last two decades.

“The advantage to stakeholders is that this standardization – whether spurred by regulation or competition – promises greater safety, transparency and efficiency, ultimately resulting in cost savings.”

However, with increasing standardization companies will need to be that much more diligent in fulfilling the requirements of programs such as the International Safety Management (ISM) code that provide the basis for the application of industry safeguards.

“Integrated service packages help business relationships run smoothly. Multiple services from a single provider mean simplified communications, invoicing and service agreements. It becomes an efficient way for businesses large and small to focus on projects, operations and revenue, knowing that other details are covered competently. From preparatory work to evaluation there is synergy and a clear, shared goal.”

It is with this common mission in mind that MAC has built international relationships across the spectrum of industry stakeholders, including energy majors, independents and asset owner/operators, believing that communication is the essential tool to improving safety and efficiency offshore.

“MAC provides a range of services and decision support tools which complement existing industry requirements. Tools such as checklists are integrated into DP operating guidelines and manuals that are tailored to specific companies, assets and operations.”

Maritime Assurance and Consulting has a multi-disciplinary team of mariners, naval architects, and marine, electrical and automation engineers that are experts in a wide array of marine operations and systems. MAC’s professional team provides both on-site and desktop expertise to ensure technical specifications translate smoothly into project execution and to completion.

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