ConocoPhillips

Offshore Incident Prevention & Response

Company focus on prevention, containment, and response

​Our focus and investments in offshore safety and environmental protection are best summarized in three primary areas:

  • PREVENTION — to reduce the risk of an incident from occurring.
  • WELL CONTROL — to cap (terminate) and/or contain potential subsea well control incidents.
  • RESPONSE — to rapidly respond to incidents to minimize safety and health hazards and mitigate environmental, socio-economic and cultural impacts.

Incident Prevention

We invest significant resources on safety and accident prevention. In drilling operations, prevention begins with proper well design and carries forward into a critical well review, hazard and operability study, spill risk analysis and task specific job hazard analyses. We also engage in training of personnel, selecting the right contractors and executing our operations in a manner that maintains safety and environmental stewardship.

The majority of our research and development funding in offshore drilling focuses on increasing efficiency without compromising safety. Much of this funding is leveraged in joint industry projects and various industry associations that involve multiple operators and contractors.

We actively seek to identify and partner with those companies that have the safest equipment and best safety records through our Contractor HSE Standard. In our U.S. onshore rig fleet, we are contracting with innovative, safety-focused drilling companies for newly built, high-tech rigs equipped with fully automated pipe handling equipment. This equipment reduces the human-machine interaction, which results in many of the injuries associated with drilling operations. Many of our offshore rigs are also newly built or of newer construction with state of the art technology and safety equipment.  

Well Control

We recognize that industry oil spill response capabilities should be continuously improved, particularly in the case of subsea wells.

We are one of the four founding companies of Marine Well Containment Company (MWCC), an independent, nonprofit company formed to provide state of the art subsea well capping and containment capabilities in the Gulf of Mexico. MWCC's well capping and containment system improved the industry's ability to respond to a deepwater well control incident in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

Since deepwater conditions vary around the globe, we were also one of the founders of the Subsea Well Response Project (SWRP). The SWRP designed and constructed four subsea well capping and containment systems staged at key global locations including Norway, South Africa, Singapore and Brazil that are managed by OSRL. A shallow water, or offset, capping and containment system was also designed and constructed for well control incidents in relatively limited water depths that preclude vessels working safely above the well.

Response

In response to the Macondo incident in the Gulf of Mexico and Montara incident in the Timor Sea near western Australia, the oil and gas industry initiated major efforts in both the U.S. and worldwide, to enhance their oil spill preparedness and response capabilities. In the U.S., the American Petroleum Institute (API) assembled three joint industry task forces (JITF) to focus on critical preparedness and response areas, primarily for offshore exploration and production activities:

  • Offshore Operating Procedures and Equipment
  • Oil Spill Preparedness and Response
  • Subsea Well Control and Containment

These groups provided more than 50 recommendations, including quicker and more effective methods for capping an uncontrolled well, improvements to subsea dispersant application and monitoring, in-situ burning, shoreline protection and cleanup and other response operations, and a new well construction interfacing document that offshore operators and drilling contractors can employ to integrate all aspects of safety management systems. We actively participated on each of these JITFs.

We also actively participated in the Global Industry Response Group (GIRG), which formulated a series of recommendations to improve oil spill preparedness and response on a global level. Subsequently, three joint industry projects were formed in association with IOGP and IPIECA including:

  • Prevention
  • Intervention (became the aforementioned SWRP)
  • Response

We are active participants in all three projects.

In addition, we participate in other industry groups such as:

  • API Oil Spill and Emergency Preparedness and Response Sub-Committee and several associated work groups
  • IPIECA’s Industry Technical Advisory Committee, Oil Spill Working Group and Global Initiatives
  • IOGP’s Oil Spill Response and Arctic Response Joint Industry Projects
  • Oil and Gas U.K. Oil Spill Prevention and Response Advisory Group and European Issues Subgroup
  • Society of Petroleum Engineers Committee, which provided industry guidelines on how to calculate worse-case discharge volumes in response to a Bureau of Ocean Energy Management directive
  • West Coast, Alaska and Gulf of Mexico Joint Assessment Teams, which provide collaborative forums for industry and U.S. regulatory representatives to share information and strategize on conducting cooperative Natural Resource Damage Assessments