At least 27 accidents occurred at BP’s oil and gasoline operations in Alaska this yr, together with 5 that risked the lives of dozens of staff.
Now BP’s prime officers are scrambling to “reset” the corporate’s security tradition earlier than one in every of these scares turns right into a human or environmental disaster on the Alaskan North Slope, in keeping with inner emails, recordings, interviews, and different documentation obtained confirmed.
On Sept. 10, for instance, two staff responding to defective gear inside a constructing at a drill website inadvertently triggered a leak of 1,200 kilograms of gasoline, one in every of a number of severe accidents that haven’t been publicly reported prior to now. Fortunately, the 2 staff escaped unhurt. But it had the potential to be a lethal explosion.
“If there had been an ignition supply, we’d have misplaced colleagues,” BP Alaska President Janet Weiss wrote in an e mail to Team Alaska, the workforce within the state, on Sept. 12. “We should change now; we will need to have a reset,” Weiss added.
She despatched one other pressing plea to employees two weeks later. “Our security efficiency — each course of and private — shouldn’t be the place it ought to be and no different enterprise goal is extra essential,” Weiss wrote in an e mail to Alaska employees on Sept. 27.
The firm was involved sufficient to take the drastic step of eradicating many staff from Prudhoe Bay, the biggest oil and gasoline subject within the state, for the primary 12 days of October. This break, and the previous accidents, doubtless reduce into BP’s backside line, which in Alaska hit $85 million in 2016. During the latest pause, employees took half in massive workshops and smaller team-level discussions centered on bettering security.
“The security of our staff and safety of the setting are BP’s prime priorities,” a BP spokesperson advised by e mail.
“In Alaska, one of many methods wherein we work to satisfy our dedication to secure, compliant and dependable operations is a program for pipeline assurance that features almost 300,000 inspections annually,” the spokesperson added. “In addition, this month, whereas persevering with each day operations, we instituted a security timeout once we held workshops and different trainings to proceed to coach staff and promote private and course of security.”
All of this unequivocally exhibits that BP Alaska officers know there’s a security downside and are desperately making an attempt to scrub it up. Their proposed fixes middle on reinforcing firm procedures and asking individuals to be extra vigilant, in keeping with three longtime senior BP operations staff. But some say this method doesn’t get on the coronary heart of the issue: the corporate chopping corners.
“BP administration acknowledges the various latest essential incidents we’ve skilled will result in a dying,” a longtime worker mentioned. “We are making the identical errors we made 40 years in the past.”
Since the corporate began drilling in Prudhoe Bay in 1968, its operations in Alaska and elsewhere have resulted in a sequence of devastating accidents. Explosions at a Texas City refinery in 2005 killed 15 individuals and injured 180 extra. Following a 2006 oil spill in Prudhoe Bay, the corporate needed to pay tens of millions in charges.
And in April 2010, BP brought on the biggest oil spill in US historical past. That’s when the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded about 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana, killing 11 staff, injuring a minimum of 16 others, and releasing greater than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Marine animal populations are nonetheless struggling to get well, as are coastal wetlands, seashores, and different habitats polluted by the spill. The firm has estimated the pretax value of the spill is about $61.6 billion.
Industry consultants say that if a Deepwater Horizon–scale accident struck once more, BP would face one more PR nightmare, plus excessive fines and authorized charges.
“I discover it not possible to suppose they might survive that,” Rick Steiner, an Alaska-based environmental marketing consultant who helped reply to the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, mentioned.
This threat is mirrored in how senior…