NRC Releases Study Assessing The Safety Of OCS Offshore Oil

The National Academy of Engineering recently released its study of "Safety and Offshore Oil." This document was commissioned by the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Coast Guard in response to a provision of the OCS Lands Act Amendments of 1978.

In June, 1979, the Geological Survey requested that the National Research Council (NRC) undertake an assessment of the adequacy of technologies and regulations as a major contribution to the mandated study. For its part, the NRC appointed the Committee on Assessment of Safety of Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Activities to conduct the assessment under the aegis of the Marine Board.

The Committee conducted a comprehensive assessment of safety on the outer continental shelf, taking "safety" to include that of people, the marine environment and property, and encompassing the lessening of risk and the avoidance of accidents.

In its work, the Committee did not attempt to place OCS oil and gas development in perspective with other resource development activities. With regard to assessing the adequacy of regulations, the Committee directed its attention to regulatory practice and compliance. No attempt was made to broaden this evaluation into a management audit of government responsibilities and programs.

The Committee initiated its study with a request for information and opinions on the safety of OCS activities from interested parties. This served to identify sources of public and industrial concerns. The Committee then reviewed the historical record of the safety of OCS activities and the conclusions and recommendations of previous studies. The Committee then assembled data on OCS technologies and regulations, organizing the data by areas of safety concerns.

The final task of the Committee was to prepare for each area of safety a technical description of technologies and regulations for analysis and assessment.

The final assessment of adequacy is a judgment and is the consensus arrived at by the Committee through collective evaluation of the technical analysis and discussion.

This report may well be the basis for other studies and additional offshore safety regulations in the future.

Copies of "Safety and Offshore Oil" are available for $11 from the National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20418.

Maritime Reporter Magazine, page 37,  Nov 1981

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