Immediately after the Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico, BP asked its most senior safety professional, Mark Bly, to lead an investigation relating to the causes of the incident and make recommendations to help prevent such accidents from occurring. The investigation led to 26 recommendations for reducing risk in BP's drilling operations. Since the report's publication in 2010, BP has made a significant progress in implementing those 26 recommendations. BP Magazine finds out more In September 2010, four months after the Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico, BP released its Deepwater Horizon Accident Investigation Report, known as the Bly Report, concluding that the accident resulted from a complex, interlinked series of failures involving multiple parties.
The report was the work of an investigation team led by BP’s head of safety and operations, Mark Bly, and consisted of more than 50 technical and other specialists, drawn not only from BP but also the wider energy industry.
The team made 26 recommendations speciﬁc to drilling, aimed at further reducing risk. Accepting all of these recommendations, BP committed to their implementation across its worldwide drilling operations and the recommendations are now in the process of being implemented into the well designs by engineers and operations personnel.
That implementation is overseen by the global wells organisation (GWO), established by BP in April 2011 to facilitate a stronger, centralised and standardised approach to all BP-operated wells activity. “Our mission is to deliver safe, compliant and reliable wells for BP,” says Richard Lynch, head of GWO. “We have to be very clear about the work we are doing and the risks involved, and have plans in place to manage those risks. “Successfully delivering the report’s recommendations will standardise the way we work, and give us the baseline from which we can learn, as we continue to address the risks we encounter and the complexities we have into the future.”
The 26 recommendations include areas fundamental to drilling, such as well control, pressure testing, cementing, blowout preventer (BOP) assurance, rig audits and contractor management. Implementing these recommendations across all BP-operated drilling activity in 14 separate business regions is an enormous undertaking that involves more than 190 deliverables, such as the creation of new documents, training and testing of appropriate staff, and establishing veriﬁcation processes to help assure the changes are implemented and sustained. The 85-strong implementation programme team consists of a central group based in Houston and others embedded in BP’s businesses. Determined to take the right path from the start, the team took time to carefully examine each recommendation in order to fully understand what it required and what impact it would have, before starting to create, via a six-step process, the documents, operating practices and engineering technical practices (ETPs) that set out in detail what is required for BP’s businesses to conform to the new or revised practices. “We spent several months getting it all articulated and agreed with group leadership and the investigation team,” says Steve Haden, vice president of engineering and operations, and the person leading the programme.
The team adopted a ‘strategic implementation planning’ (SIP) tool to enhance systematic planning and management of all the milestones, including the evidence that tells BP that the recommendations are being correctly implemented on a global scale. Implementation is a seven-step process. By the end of August 2012, more than 100 of the individual deliverables had been completed and 10 of the recommendations had been completed. At least 14 are expected to be closed by year-end 2012.
For many of the recommendations, a major part of the planning and implementation process is developing the right training materials, identifying the individuals who need to be trained and then delivering that training, in many cases on a large scale. This is particularly the case for the recommendations that deal with well control and zonal isolation – the process of preventing ﬂuids encountered while drilling from ﬂowing up or down the wellbore.
“To assure we are targeting the right people, we did a lot of work with the safety and operational risk [S&OR] organisation and the relevant engineering authority, and we work very closely with our upstream learning centre in Houston,” Haden says. Some training is highly specialised and touches perhaps 40 or 50 positions, while some, such as well control, touches more than 800 people, almost half the GWO workforce. Another example is zonal isolation, where BP has trained more than 600 people, delivering 25 workshops in three months. Once the training is completed, BP’s management of change process puts the new practices into place. To conﬁrm that a recommendation is closed, both centrally and in the regions, S&OR evaluates all the evidence in the regions.
The recommendations vary in complexity. As a result, some have been delivered more quickly than others, but all 26 are being worked on in parallel. In some of the larger regions, and depending on the recommendation, the process may take several years.
“We are going to do this the right way,” says Haden. “We will not risk the quality of the documents, and we will not risk the quality of the implementation. Pace is important, but it is much more important to do this in a very systematic and controlled way to achieve the sustainable result we want.”
That sustainability means that all BP’s upstream businesses will be operating from a globally-aligned platform, setting the right foundation for continuous improvement. “I know that the investigation team thought long and hard about what they learned and I am conﬁdent this is the right way to help achieve safe, compliant and reliable wells,” says Bernard Looney, BP’s executive vice president for the developments division. “The overarching objective is to make a difference, and to do it right means it may take some time.” Looney continues: “That is not to say there is not a sense of urgency. There is no end point to this, but at the same time, with 88 well operations going on across the world, we need to have conﬁdence that this is making a difference today, tomorrow, next week, and, importantly, in the years ahead.”
Much of the report and its recommendations focused on veriﬁcation. And every single wells employee, from Looney and the wells leadership team to the individual engineer, has a responsibility, a duty, to ask themselves: ‘how do I know?’
Looney concludes: “If you are accountable for something, it is not enough to think it is okay, or to hope it is okay. I have to know it is okay. That is my job, and it is everyone’s job.”