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HSE responds to Offshore Engineer magazine

Dear Sir,

Ian Fitzsimmons accuses the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) of "drawing a veil" over the Sedco 711 incident and failing to act in the public interest by not disclosing the lessons learnt to BP (OE, March 2011). His assertion that HSE trivialises such incidents and, in this instance, colluded to keep news of it out of the public domain, is misplaced and inaccurate.

While there are some similarities, it is not appropriate to draw direct parallels between the Sedco 711/Bardolino incident and Deepwater Horizon/Macondo. The Bardolino incident was not a straight pre-run of Macondo. It involved a proven negative pressure test on the FIV, which was subsequently damaged. In this instance the BOP worked effectively as planned and provided the barrier to shut the well in, stop it flowing and allow it to be brought back under control. This is very different to Macondo where the negative pressure test was patently non-proven, and the BOP did not work.

HSE is responsible for regulating the offshore industry and influencing companies to ensure they properly manage and control the risks they create. We do not control the way information is disseminated between dutyholders, how it might be spread within BP or how it would even reach workers on Deepwater Horizon.

Although HSE does not routinely make public all details of its interventions, we operate within the scope of the Freedom of Information Act and we have already responded to a number of FOI requests relating to this incident. However, the primary responsibility for sharing lessons learnt lies with the industry, as demonstrated by the Step Change for Safety SADIE database. It is therefore Shell, Transocean, and Schlumberger who are best placed to ensure industry is aware of the Sedco 711 incident via either Step Change for Safety, IADC or Oil & Gas UK.

The UK offshore industry has recently created the Oil & Gas Well Life Cycle Practices Forum (WLCPF) to develop industry guidelines to ensure best practice in this area. This will include lessons learned from Macondo and other incidents such as Bardolino. HSE strongly supports this development, and I have already ensured that the WLCPF are fully aware of our priorities for their work. We will continue working with them as they take these crucial issues forward.

Steve Walker
Head of Offshore Division
Health and Safety Executive

Updated 2012-01-13