GIRG: Responding to Deepwater Horizon

Where were you when the Macondo blowout and oil spill occurred?

It was a day everyone in the oil and gas industry will long remember.

On 20th April 2010, a blowout on the Deepwater Horizon, drilling at the Macondo prospect in the Gulf of Mexico, killed 11 crew and caused a major oil spill.

Given our unique role as the global voice of the upstream oil and gas industry, members looked to IOGP to take an important role in the aftermath of the incident.  The result was the creation of the Global Industry Response Group (GIRG) in July 2010.

The International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP) created the “Global Industry Response Group (GIRG)”, to learn the lessons from the Macondo blowout and other similar events. Over nine months, the GIRG drew on the experience and talents of more than 100 technical experts, from over 20 companies. Its work was divided into three core areas:

  • Prevention: to improve drilling safety and reduce likelihood of a well control incident
  • Intervention: to decrease the time it takes to stop the flow from an uncontrolled well
  • Response: to deliver effective oil spill response preparedness and capability

In May 2011, IOGP published GIRG’s comprehensive set of recommendations and proposed that three entities be created to manage and implement them.

  • The Wells Expert Committee (WEC): to analyse well incident report data and share lessons learned, advocate harmonized risk-based standards, communicate good practice, provide a permanent improvement well control teams’ competence and behaviours and promote continued improvement in BOP reliability and efficiency.
  • The Subsea Well Response Project (SWRP): a consortium of operators to investigate, design and deliver improved  capping response with a range of equipment for shutting in wells; to design additional hardware for the subsea injection of dispersant; and to further assess the need for and feasibility of global containment solutions.
  • The Oil Spill Response Joint Industry Project: to manage the recommendations on oil spill response – develop new recommended practices, improve understanding of oil spill response tools and methodologies and to enhance coordination between key stakeholders internationally.

This led to the creation of:

  • An industry-wide well control incident database
  • A Task Force on blow-out-preventer (BOP) reliability which became the initiation point for the BOP reliability database JIP known as RAPID S-53
  • Improved human factors training and competences for Well Operations
  • The development and implementation of key international standards for well design and operations management
  • The Subsea Well Response Project – known as SWRP – to improve intervention capabilities
  • The Oil Spill Response Joint Industry Project – known as the OSR-JIP – to improve oil spill response capabilities
  • Mutual aid agreements and framework to enable operators to access additional resources in the event of a major oil spill

Measuring success

The success of these initiatives can be seen in the intense continuing collaboration within the industry and through the sharing of incidents and learnings – documented and disseminated publicly. This sharing and learning strengthen the industry’s ability to deal with any major incident.

The industry believes it is safer because the GIRG initiatives transformed the global oil and gas industry’s culture and processes. Its recommendations have significantly improved the industry’s ability to prevent, mitigate and respond to major offshore incidents.

This work, together with continuing progress in intervention and response, is key to IOGP members’ determination to produce oil and gas more safely and sustainably than ever before.

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