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Title: Deepwater Horizon – lessons for the pipeline industry
Category:
Downloadable: Yes 
Catalog No.: 2263s
Date of Publication: Sep 1 2012 12:00AM
Price: $25.00 US
Authors: Dr Jan Hayes and Prof. Andrew Hopkins
Abstract: The Deepwater Horizon incident has impacted significantly on the offshore drilling industry in the US and globally. The final environmental, political, and financial consequences will not be known for decades, but it is already clear that the incident has changed, and will continue to change, the way business is done for all operating companies, drilling contractors, regulators, and industry associations that function in the offshore oil and gas industry.

Social science research shows that high- performing organizations seek opportunities to learn from failures, and Deepwater Horizon provides such an opportunity for the pipeline industry. Whilst the technical details of well-control systems may not be directly relevant, there are broader organizational factors that can provide significant lessons to any organization that designs, maintains, and/or operates complex and potentially hazardous technology. Accident investigations, including Deepwater Horizon, continue to highlight common organizational failures that can have catastrophic consequences, and it is these lessons that are the subject of this paper. The key question is why accidents continue to occur despite the level of engineering and management system controls that are apparently in place.

There is an enormous volume of published material available regarding the causes of the Deepwater Horizon blowout. This paper is based on analysis of that material to draw-out lessons that are relevant to management of gas pipeline companies including:

managing the cost / safety tradeoff
the down side of good news
maintaining a focus on the need for multiple barriers
the value of professional judgment and experience
understanding the difference between personal safety and system integrity
contractor relationships, and
linking incentives for senior management to system safety performance.

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