20 Nov /12

Offshore Health and Safety: Lessons Learned

offshore health safetyThere are few jobs that are as physically and mentally demanding than employment on an offshore oil and gas exploration site. While standardized health and safety regulations have helped to significantly reduced work related accidents since the early days of offshore drilling at the beginning of century, marine operations still present considerable safety challenges for the operator.

Until recently, however, operators and scientist agreed that offshore drilling safety had had progressively improved in the last decades and might, in fact, have made offshore production safer than land based extraction. This notion was radically reversed when BP‘s Deepwater Horizon experienced one of the largest accidents that had ever occurred on an offshore platform. In April of 2010, the efforts to drill an exploratory drill were abruptly halted when a sudden explosion set the entire platform ablaze resulting in the death of 11 workers and the largest marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. The ecological and legal aftermath of the catastrophe are well documented and will busy the courts for years to come.

The accident did, however, exemplified the need for a dramatic reassessment of the risks associated with offshore drilling and caused production companies to reassess their internal health and safety practices. In October 2010, as a result of this new focus on health and safety measures, the European Commission began to discuss a comprehensive EU legislative on oil platforms aimed at ensuring the highest safety standards in the world. Only one year later, the commission proposed a law that binds European offshore oil and gas production to adhering strict safety, health and environmental standards everywhere in the EU. Part of this new EU regulation seeks to centralize the control of offshore health and safety and environmental protection in an EU commission by replacing the current national codes responsible for regulating offshore activities.

The basis for the proposed provision was Norway’s established safety regime, believed by many experts to be the most effective in in the industry. Norway, in particular –the world’s largest offshore oil producer and second largest offshore natural gas producer – has in place an integrated legal framework for regulating health, safety and environmental issues in the conduct of offshore oil and gas operations.

Nonetheless, the European push for standardized safety regulations does not stop at the shores of the North Sea. It is specifically designed to invite other nations to partner in their effort to improve industry standards. The Barents 2020 project, for instance, a project supported by Russian and Norwegian oil and gas suppliers such as Gazprom and Statoil as well as governmental authorities from both nations.

As countries and companies are teaming up to prevent future accidents on the world’s offshore drilling units, it is imperative to translate the improved standards and regulations to both facility managers and workers. EVS Translations has more than 20 years of experience in translating health and safety manuals and regulations from the oil and gas industry. Give us a call and find out how you can leverage our in-house teams of industry specific translators in the US, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia for your projects and provide cost-optimized language solutions for your on- and offshore projects