Playing by the rules – and helping to define them

The upstream oil and gas industry operates within a complex global network of regulations, guidelines and conventions. One of IOGP’s most important roles is to provide technical expertise to the organizations that set the rules; establishing common ground and setting effective and achievable goals in terms of health, safety and the environment.

Wendy Brown
Wendy Brown

For example, when the International Regulators’ Forum (IRF) met in Aberdeen in early June, IOGP was there. The choice of city was appropriate: it has been 30 years since the Piper Alpha incident, which was commemorated by a special Safety30 Conference in Aberdeen on 5-6 June.

The IRF had invited IOGP – along with the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC), the American Petroleum Institute (API) and standards leader ISO to provide updates from their organizations. IOGP Environment Director Wendy Brown represented the Association.

Her audience for the session on associations included some 30 delegates from the 10 IRF member countries Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Brazil, Mexico, UK, USA, the Netherlands and Denmark, together with invited observers from Ghana and Ireland.

Setting out priorities

“Association representatives were each given a five-minute slot to present key highlights from their previously submitted presentation and then we had around 45 minutes for questions and discussion. My priority on behalf of IOGP was to raise four requests for the IRF to consider,”, Wendy says. These were:

  • Help to facilitate safety-related datasharing among companies
  • More interaction with the IRF concerning fatalities, well-control incidents and other risks, standards and decommissioning
  • Regulation consistency
  • Outreach to regulators from other countries with newer oil and gas industries

“The topic that generated the most discussion was about sharing of well control and safety data,” Wendy recalls. “Several regulators cited concerns that not enough was being done to share useful qualitative and quantitative data – in many cases because of perceived legal issues. The general view was that the aviation industry does a much better job of data-sharing. In the US, for example, the Federal Aviation Administration has established a regime that gives airlines confidence that their candour won’t land them in court. Participants agreed that this sets a promising precedent,” Wendy reports.

The Aberdeen IRF AGM was Wendy’s first experience of that organization.

“I hope other opportunities will arise for me to represent IOGP at similar forums, in particular the sister forum of environmental regulators (IOPER International Offshore Petroleum Environmental Regulators). It’s a body that can have lasting – and positive – impacts on our Members’ business around the world. As an Association, IOGP is ideally placed to work with the IRF to achieve our common goal of safer, more sustainable upstream operations.”

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