PFC: A 50 Year History of Safety Awareness in the US Gulf of Mexico

Recorded On: 11/10/2015

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The safety and environmental protection aspects in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of drilling and producing systems is of paramount importance. The industry has always been concerned with safety. After all no one wants to be killed or be the cause of a fellow worker or employee losing his life or becoming seriously injured. However, our awareness of how to act on that concern and what is possible from the standpoint of safety has changed over the years.

The history of safety awareness by industry in the US Gulf of Mexico (GOM) is one of periods of slow improvements with dramatic step changes after major accidents. I wish it were otherwise, but in reality the industry has historically only responded with major changes in the way it designs and operates its offshore drilling and production activities in the face of negative publicity from a few highly visible and publicized accidents and the threat of regulations. Thus, the history of safety awareness by industry is generally, with many specific company exceptions, a history of major accidents, the threat of new regulations and industry's response to these threats to assure the regulations are both practical and efficient.

The presentation also addresses the things I worry about as we go forward in improving safety while addressing new challenges and innovations. Among these are: compliance attitudes, SEMS Audits, mentality of punishment, developing safety cultures, imagining the impossible and training the next generation.

It could be quite a complicated undertaking to address every change that has taken place in attitudes and regulations over a half of a century of innovation. This presentation is merely a personal recollection of the main changes as I experienced them and my personal concerns for the future.

This webinar is categorized under Projects, Facilities, and Construction.

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Kenneth E. (KEN) Arnold


Kenneth E. Arnold has fifty years of industry experience with 16 years at Shell Oil Company. He founded Paragon Engineering Services in 1980 which was purchased by AMEC in 2005. In September 2007, Ken retired from AMEC and formed K Arnold Consulting, Inc. (KACI). In 2010 he joined WorleyParsons as a part-time Senior Technical Advisor while maintaining KACI for independent consulting work.

Ken is co-author of two textbooks and author of over 50 technical articles on safety management, project management and facilities design. He has been chosen as an SPE distinguished lecturer three times. He has twice served on the Board of SPE, and is currently President of The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas. He was a former member of the Marine Board of the National Research Council and Chair of the National Research Council Committee which prepared a report for the Department of the Interior on “Evaluating the Effectiveness of Safety and Environmental Management Systems for Offshore Operations”.

Ken has taught facilities engineering at the University of Houston and Technion in Israel as well as for several oil companies. He is a registered professional engineer and serves on the advisory board of the engineering schools of Tulane University and Cornell University and the Petroleum Engineering Advisory Board of University of Houston.

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Web Event
11/10/2015 at 5:30 PM (EST)   |  90 minutes
11/10/2015 at 5:30 PM (EST)   |  90 minutes Scheduled for 90 minutes.
CEU Credit
0.15 CEU credits  |  Certificate available
0.15 CEU credits  |  Certificate available CEU Credit