Drilling safety

Safe, efficient and reliable drilling operations are critical to the delivery of our upstream activities

Our global wells organization manages BP wells operations around the world, whether in deep water or onshore. The centralized team is responsible for the drilling practices underpinning our efforts to prevent incidents throughout the life of a well and mitigate impacts should they occur. It is also responsible for developing the right skills and competencies in the workforce.

Advanced technology

Technological innovation has enabled safe and reliable operations even as the industry has moved into deeper water and new, more complex geologies. We use technology to monitor conditions over the lifetime of our wells. For example, we have piloted the use of fibre-optic sensing technology to detect integrity problems and sand movement within our wells, which can cause leaks, blockages and corrosion. As a result of preliminary surveys at our Valhall platform in the North Sea, we will be able to use this technology to help us identify blockages and assess any damage in a given well, including the type of damage and where it is located. This will help us plan maintenance and decommissioning work.

Working with industry peers

We share expertise and work to promote common standards across the industry. For example, in 2015 we worked with industry peers to publish global definitions of well control incidents, providing a common way to report and share lessons learned. We also continued our work with other organizations to develop joint industry standards in areas such as subsea well control equipment and high pressure, high temperature and subsea drilling equipment.

Q: How have the Bly recommendations made your drilling operations safer, and how do you maintain this?

A: Completing the Bly Report recommendations has been a huge undertaking for BP and has led to fundamental change in how we manage risk in our drilling operations. Now we’re working hard to make sure our new and enhanced practices and procedures are understood and adhered to. We’ve invested in our people - so they have the right capabilities and work in a systematic fashion, regularly checking their own work. 

But there is always more we can do. In the spirit of continuous improvement, we carry on challenging and improving what we do.

I’m proud of the commitment I see demonstrated by our drilling personnel, which is keeping this momentum going. The recommendations, now complete, live on as part of our operating management system, helping us deliver safe, reliable and competitive wells.

Bernard Looney, chief executive, Upstream, BP

Completing the Bly Report recommendations

We have completed all 26 recommendations made by BP’s investigation into the Deepwater Horizon accident, the Bly Report.
In doing so, we have acted to enhance blowout-preventer reliability, well control, well integrity and cementing, verification and risk management, drilling capability and training. The programme has involved significant work both within BP and with our service providers and drilling contractors: developing new standards and enhancing existing standards, carrying out hundreds of audits, site visits to our drilling locations around the world, and training over 3,000 individuals during more than 130 workshop sessions.

Independent assessment

The BP board appointed Carl Sandlin as independent expert in 2012 to provide an objective assessment of BP’s global progress in implementing the recommendations from the Bly Report. He also provided process safety observations and his views on the organizational effectiveness and culture of the global wells organization.

Over the period of his appointment, Mr Sandlin met regularly with board members and wells organization leadership and reviewed the standards and practices developed to complete the recommendations. He made three visits to each of the regional wells teams with active drilling operations, meeting key personnel and drilling contractors on site. 

Mr Sandlin’s engagement came to a close in February 2016 after he reported to the board’s safety, ethics and environment assurance committee that all 26 Bly report recommendations had been closed out to his satisfaction. He stated that the idea of safety as a top priority is firmly ingrained throughout the global wells organization and noted an increase in the degree of rigour and engagement at all levels. He recommended the organization build on the foundations established by the recommendations and maintain its focus on continuous improvement in the areas of safety culture, self-verification and training.

Gulf of Mexico: Independent monitors

Two independent monitors - an ethics monitor and a process safety monitor - were appointed under the terms of the criminal plea agreement BP reached with the US government in 2012. Under the terms of the agreement, we are taking additional actions, enforceable by the court, to further enhance ethics and compliance across BP and the safety of its drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico.

The ethics monitor delivered an initial report early in 2015. He delivered a second report later in the year under a separate administrative agreement with the US Environmental Protection Agency. Recommendations from the two reports largely relate to BP’s ethics and compliance programme and code of conduct, including its implementation and enforcement. The recommendations have been consolidated and agreed, and BP is now in the process of implementing them. The ethics monitor is meanwhile conducting a follow-up review as the next phase of his engagement.

The process safety monitor reviews and provides recommendations concerning BP Exploration & Production Inc’s (BPXP) process safety and risk management procedures for deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. BPXP is the BP group company that conducts exploration and production operations in the Gulf of Mexico. The process safety monitor also submitted a report in 2015.

Following discussions between BPXP, the process safety monitor and the US Department of Justice, the recommendations have now been finalized and implementation by BPXP is underway.


The information on this page forms part of the information reviewed and reported on by Ernst & Young as part of BP's 2015 sustainability reporting. View the full assurance statement.

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