BP now works with fewer contractors to reduce risk, exec tells OTC audience

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BP intends to focus on stronger relationships with a smaller range of contractors as part of a risk management strategy developed since the deadly blowout of its Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico two years ago, one of the company’s top executives told a breakfast audience Monday as the Offshore Technology Conference kicked off at Reliant Park.

Bernard Looney, executive vice president of development for BP, said that BP intends to integrate contractors more fully into its offshore work, and to work with fewer contractors, so that the operator-contractor relationship is more integrated. Investigators cited poor communication between BP and various contractors as a factor in the blowout that destroyed the Deepwater Horizon rig, killed 11 workers and spilled millions of barrels of crude into the Gulf.

“Where we once worked with 30 procurement management design contractors, today we work with five,” Looney said. “It makes it easier to work in partnerships, and determine what the priorities are for both us and the contractor. It is a deeper relationship than we could with 30 and brings the contractors more into our business.”

Looney also stressed that BP has looked to other industries for outside perspectives on how it could approach risk management, and emphasized identifying and maintaining effective barriers against specific risks, as recommended by the Global Industry Response Group.

Peter Bjerager, director of operations for DNV Oil and Gas NA, who attended the breakfast, said  strategy and technology  Looney discussed would be dramatic advancements.

These include  subsea valves weighing 20 tons, sensing and monitoring systems for real-time subsea integrity managements, and blowout preventers weighing more than a million pounds — all designed to work at subsea pressures of 30,000 pounds per square inch.

DNV Oil and Gas NA conducted a forensic study for the U.S. government of the blowout preventer that failed as the last line of defense at the Macondo well.

Bjerager also praised a BP proposal to make safety records more transparent.

“He talked about reporting all accidents, and to make a common record for all accidents and incidents, so everyone can learn from it,” Bjerager said. “This will open things up for the public to really see what the industry is doing from a safety perspective.”