SEMS: A New Standard for Offshore Operations
April 15th gives industry operators only seven more months to plan and implement Safety & Environmental Management Systems (SEMS,) an approach made mandatory by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) last November.
Previously voluntary, the BOEMRE’s now-mandatory compliance deadline is November 15, 2011. This regulatory push by the BOEMRE, the federal agency responsible for overseeing the safe and environmentally responsible development of energy and mineral resources on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS,) has even greater support in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which poured more than four million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
According to BOEMRE, the SEMS is a nontraditional, performance-focused tool for integrating and managing offshore operations. The approach is composed of 13 elements and was created to enhance the safety and cleanliness of operations by reducing the frequency and severity of accidents. Applicable to all OCS oil and gas operations under the BOEMRE jurisdiction, affected industries include: drilling, production, construction, well workover, well completion, well servicing and DOI pipeline.
The BOEMRE has four chief SEMS objectives:
- Focus attention on the influences that human error and poor organization have on accidents
- Continuous improvement in the offshore industry’s safety and environmental records
- Encourage the use of performance-based operating practices
- Collaborate with industry in efforts that promote the public interests of offshore worker safety and environmental protection.
With the Deepwater Horizon disaster still top of mind, the complexity and risk of offshore operations continue to draw attention to the need for strengthened safety audits and has furthered the importance of the SEMS initiative. Regulators are adamant and have set strict consequences for compliance, including the possibility of facilities being closed if the program implementation deadline is not met.
In a March 15 workshop, the BOEMRE provided an overview and background on SEMS, addressed frequently asked questions and reviewed the process for SEMS audits and reviews. Suggestions for creating a SEMS plan include having a strong commitment from management, getting an early start and utilizing a multi-disciplined team approach.For more information, please visit http://www.boemre.gov/semp/ or view the SEMS PowerPoint presentation here.