IW 50 Best: Exxon's Tillerson Weighs in on BP Oil Spill

June 16, 2010
Says proper procedures would have prevented such an incident

Exxon Mobil Corp. is no stranger to environmentally disastrous oil spills. Scenes from the Gulf Coast of birds soaked in oil remind many people of the 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker spill in Alaska.

But Exxon has learned from the accident and implemented procedures to prevent such incidents from happening again, CEO Rex Tillerson said in an opening statement to the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment on June 15. Tillerson was speaking to the committee in regards to BP PLCs Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Tillerson said the incident should not have happened if BP were following industrywide accepted practices.

According to a copy of his prepared statement, Tillerson said:

We are eager to learn what occurred at this well that did not occur at the other 14,000 deepwater wells that have been successfully drilled around the world. It is critical we understand exactly what happened in this case, both the drill well design and operating procedures, and the execution of the drilling plans, which led to such severe consequences. We need to know if the level of risk taken went beyond the industry norms.

Tillerson further stated that properly designed wells with established inspection, maintenance and training procedures should have prevented the Deepwater Horizon incident.

Chevron Corp. CEO John Watson echoed Tillersons sentiments during committee testimony, saying he believes the independent investigation will show that this tragedy was preventable," according to Agence France-Presse. "The Deepwater Horizon accident tragically reinforces that all companies must operate with the same high standards of safety and reliability. It is clear that failure to do so has dire consequences," he said.

Tillerson noted that the Exxon Valdez oil spill was a turning point for the company in regards to safety.

In the aftermath, the company launched a full-scale review of its operations and implemented its Operations Integrity Management System, or OIMS a rigorous regime of 11 separate elements that measures and mitigates safety, security, health and environmental risk, Tillerson said.

The standards and requirements that operate within OIMS dictate our approach to drilling, as they do for all of our other operations, Tillerson said. We have documented standards for equipment and well design. We utilize proprietary technology to predict pressures and model resource flow, and we carefully analyze that information to both understand and reduce risk.

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