BP Spill Commission Leader Asks for Oil Safety Organization

March 8, 2011
William Reilly says global standards needed for deepwater drilling.
HOUSTON -- William Reilly, the co-chair of President Obama's investigative commission on the BP oil spill, urged oil industry leaders to create a global organization that would oversee safety standards and deepwater-drilling certification.

Reilly spoke about the need for an industry safety group during the IHS CERAWeek energy conference in Houston March 8.

Industry leaders will meet March 18 to decide whether to create such an organization, said Reilly, a former Environmental Protection Agency administrator.

Membership in the organization and certification should be required by regulators for companies engaging in deepwater drilling, Reilly said.

The safety group must remain fully independent of oil industry advocacy to gain the public's trust, Reilly said.

Earlier in the day BP CEO Robert Dudley called for more industrywide collaboration to address future safety risks.

Dudley warned other industry leaders not to think of BP's disaster as a one-in-a-million occurance.

"As we have learned in the past 11 months, one company's calamity quickly becomes every company's concern," Dudley said.

BP executives have shared lessons learned by the incident with industry partners and government leaders all over the world, according to Dudley.

The National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill filed its final report on the disaster Jan. 11 and concluded that management failures at BP were at the root of all technical failures leading to the Macondo well blowout. The commission will disband on March 11.

Reilly said the industry has done a "remarkable" job of improving safety after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, but warned that complacency cannot return. Prior to the Deepwater Horizon incident, the state of containment equipment had not evolved since the Exxon Valdez spill, Reilly said.

"For all the progress since last April, we cannot let our guard down again," he said.

Reilly stressed the need for continued innovations in oil industry safety as companies explore new territories in more challenging environments where past experience may not provide proper guidance.

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