IADC Advocates Prompt Return to Deepwater Drilling

The International Association of Drilling Contractors filed testimony with the Department of Energy's National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling advocating a prompt return to deep-water drilling. IADC presented data that offshore drilling, including deep water, has a proven safety record when conducted according to accepted industry standards. Some 14,000 deep-water wells have been drilled without major incident until the recent Macondo blowout, "an extreme and unprecedented event," the testimony said.

According to government statistics, more than 2,500 deep-water wells have been drilled since 2006. Only three well control incidents spilling 25.5 barrels occurred over that time, excluding Macondo. The employment and economic implications of a continued ban are severe and potentially catastrophic, IADC said. Its study of 11,875 offshore and support personnel shows that these individuals call 296 (68 percent) of Congressional Districts home.

"Few states lack representation among this group of US citizens," IADC noted.

The study does not include the tens of thousands of workers at oil-field service companies, equipment manufacturers, oil companies, or supporting industries, such as caterers or machine shops.

While a significant portion of goods and services are manufactured along the Gulf Coast, firms across the nation supply the offshore industry. Examples are

  • Wire rope -- Missouri and Arkansas;
  • Radiators -- Minnesota;
  • Steel, pipe and pipe-protective chemicals -- Ohio;
  • Protective paints -- Missouri;
  • Machinery -- Michigan;
  • Engines, fabrics, uniforms and drilling equipment -- Illinois;
  • Corrosion preventive materials -- Illinois and Minnesota;
  • Electrical cables -- Connecticut;
  • Drilling equipment -- Kansas;
  • Background checks and security services -- Wisconsin;
  • Safety footwear -- Oregon.

If rigs move overseas, these jobs go with them. It is unwise in these tough times to export good-paying jobs. When these jobs vanish, these citizens' communities will suffer, IADC said.

IADC recommends a return to offshore drilling that includes recertifying all blowout prevention equipment and ensuring their suitability for the rig and well design in compliance with the Department of Interior's new standards. In addition, all personnel should be subject to industry- and government-accepted standards for well-control procedures, such as IADC's Well Control Accreditation Program. Finally, IADC recommends reviews of all operator plans, especially casing and cementing designs, to ensure sufficient pressure barriers and adequate designs.

IADC endorsed the DOI's recommendation to adopt the IADC Health, Safety & Environmental Case Guidelines to facilitate Well Construction Interface Documents for GOM operations. This system of risk management, submitted in a drilling application, is internationally recognized and should be accepted by the US, IADC said.