Assessing the Processes, Tools, and Value of Sharing and Learning From Offshore E&P Safety-Related Data

With the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement as a cochair of the steering committee, SPE held a 2-day summit in April to discuss the development and implementation of an industrywide safety-data sharing framework.


In 2014, the US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) approached SPE regarding a proposed collaboration opportunity to develop a voluntary industrywide near-miss data-sharing framework. The goal of this framework was envisioned as a resource to enhance the industry’s ability to capture and share key learnings from significant near-miss events with the objective of identifying and mitigating potential high-consequence risks. While the scope of this collaboration initially focused on only near misses, further discussion of the desired outcome resulted in increasing the scope to include a broader range of data that have learning value to help the industry to achieve improved safety performance. Further, in the spirit of continuous improvement, a related objective was identified to bring government and industry together to make a safe industry safer, and to enhance public confidence in the industry.

SPE and BSEE agreed to cochair a summit steering committee that included representatives from SPE, BSEE, exploration and production (E&P) operators, service companies, the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the Center for Offshore Safety, American Bureau of Shipping, and the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers. During the planning process of the summit, it was agreed that the scope of a data collection and reporting framework would start with the US Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). Additionally, a secondary objective was to consider how existing processes might be leveraged with an overarching objective to extend influence beyond the US OCS to align with other systems and requirements globally. In considering industry alternatives for developing a safety-data management framework, caution was advised to avoid creating an additional layer of reporting expectations over and above the current requirements by regulators and industry associations.

During the summit, Vice Admiral Brian Salerno, the director of BSEE, shared his perspective on the importance of industrywide safety-data collection and sharing. He also encouraged the E&P industry to demonstrate to the public how a safe industry could be made safer through more open data sharing.

The discussions, expert opinions, and suggestions offered by the group of safety-data management subject matter experts during the summit were captured in a technical report that was posted on the SPE website for comments, then approved by the SPE Board of Directors in September 2016. The report SPE 182847-TR is available to SPE members in OnePetro. 

Summit Objectives

SPE held the 2-day summit in April 2016 to discuss the opportunities, challenges, and processes needed for developing and implementing an industrywide safety-data sharing framework. The summit objectives were as follows:

  • Establish a pathway to address opportunities and challenges of industrywide safety-data management processes.
  • Identify how BSEE and SPE may collaborate to add value to existing and future processes.
  • Leverage strategic processes (new and existing) to address opportunities and gaps focused on the collection, analysis, and dissemination of data, including major incident and precursor data.
  • Encourage and facilitate continuous feedback and learning in support of ongoing safety management systems and programs.
  • Consider how existing processes might be leveraged with an overarching objective to extend influence beyond the US OCS, and align with other systems and requirements globally.

Capturing the Data

The steering committee drafted a proposed future state designed to capture specific data related to health, safety, and environment hazards to enable analyses, learning, and ultimately action to improve barrier integrity and eliminate or reduce the risk of incidents. The proposed future state was also proposed as a voluntary program geared toward learning and was not intended to measure the performance of the E&P industry or a specific company.

To help structure the summit discussion, a data process flow chart (Fig. 1) was developed to address the following five topics:

  1. What data should be shared?
  2. Who should share data and from where?
  3. What should be the data collection process?
  4. How should the data be reviewed and analyzed?
  5. How should learning and action occur?
Fig. 1: Safety-data discussion process.


Some of the challenges and boundaries addressed included the following:

  • Identification of any gaps and subsequent resolution methods
  • Ensuring confidence that there is a safe data-sharing environment
  • Discussing the current barriers for providing information
  • Determining the breadth of safety metrics and of truly critical data for good risk-based management decision making
  • Addressing voluntary participation, confidentiality, protection from legal discovery, protection of source data, and laws and government regulation

Setting the Context

Shared learning from incidents and events that occur in an industry is a key factor in the continual improvement in health, safety, security, and environmental performance. This is particularly important for the prevention and mitigation barriers associated with major hazards. Important aspects of an effective shared learning system explored during the summit were the following:

  • Identification of prospective value-added shared data
  • Data collection processes, tools, and responsibilities, including data confidentiality and protection
  • Data review and analysis needs and expectations, including the types of analyses and independent review processes
  • Dissemination of information and learnings, including report quality, publication, and alert framework

Industry and BSEE Next Steps

Upon conclusion of the summit, it was agreed that a number of near- and long-term next steps could be undertaken in parallel with the objective of retaining the momentum gained during the summit so that change could be enacted as efficiently and effectively as possible.  The following list was provided to facilitate future action.

Pilot Program

  • Pursue a volunteer pilot implementation program with willing operators, service companies, and equipment manufacturers to “test run” a consolidated industrywide safety-data management process based on the results of the summit discussions.
  • Use pilot program results to determine if the “right” data are being collected to allow for risk-based decision making. 

Workshops, Summits, Forums

Develop a schedule of proposed future summits and technical workshops on specific subtopics that support the technical report, such as,

  • Data collection and analysis to improve barrier management

o Standard industry definitions for hardware and human barrierso Reporting hardware barrier successes
o Definition and boundaries for barrier testing and inspection failures

  • Data reporting/review/analysis

o Precursor data identificationo Metadata
o Data categories (e.g., causal factors and areas for improvement)
o High-consequence events (actual or potential)
o Safety-incident classification methodology
o Decision for issuing alerts
o Cyber security and cyber physical safety

  • Testing and inspection criteria

o Define the elements of operation and specify their role in testing and inspection (e.g., well drilling, production)o Define the roles of the stakeholders across the life cycle and their proposed reporting requirements from manufacturer to operator
o Clarify requirements to record data on failures regardless of barrier status
o Evaluate the benefits of developing a list of reportable failures

Networking and Collaboration

  • Use SPE Technical Sections and other groups, as appropriate, for ongoing networking on safety-data management and risk management.
  • Establish a data framework and culture (both industry and regulator) that encourages open reporting, protect and secure the identity of the submitters, protect business-sensitive information, and promote sharing of safety-data and learnings.
  • Leverage SPE’s online publication HSE Now, SPE PetroWiki, and other industry publications to share articles of interest related to improved safety-data management, analysis, and reporting processes.
  • Assess the benefits of establishing an SPE Technical Section as a global forum to allow members to network on the topic of safety-data sharing.
  • Seek opportunities to integrate safety-data sharing and related topics into existing SPE workshops, conferences, and training programs.

Roland Moreau, SPE, serves as the Vice President, Finance, on the SPE Board of Directors and recently retired from ExxonMobil after 34 years of service, having spent much of his career in various management, leadership, and technical positions in the production, development, research, and refining business sectors. He served as the Health, Safety, Security, Environment, and Social Responsibility Technical Director on SPE’s Board of Directors from 2011 to 2014. Before joining ExxonMobil, Moreau also worked for 5 years in the naval nuclear industry. He holds a BS degree in mechanical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and an MBA in finance from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He is currently enrolled in a certified financial planning program at Rice University. Moreau remains active on various SPE initiatives in the HSSE-SR area and serves as chair of the HSE Now ( Editorial Advisory Committee.