Queen Bess Island Restoration

FILE - In this June 4, 2010, file photo, a clean-up worker picks up blobs of oil in absorbent snare on Queen Bess Island at the mouth of Barataria Bay near the Gulf of Mexico in Plaquemines Parish, La. Nearly $17 million in Deepwater Horizon oil spill money would rebuild a barrier island bird rookery off Louisiana to more than seven times its current size under a recently released plan. Queen Bess Island was the first spot where brown pelicans were returned to Louisiana after the pesticide DDT wiped them out. It was heavily hit by oil from the 2010 spill. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

As you stated in your recent editorial, “Lessons from Deepwater Horizon disaster still resonate nearly a decade later,” next month marks the ninth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill off the coast of Louisiana. The accident left a deep imprint on all of us, particularly in the offshore industry. In the days, months and years since, much has been learned and much has changed to improve safety. Sweeping measures were taken to overhaul the industry’s capability to intervene and respond in case of an incident. To prevent incidents from happening in the first place, more than 100 standards have been created or strengthened for safety and environmental management, well design, blowout prevention and spill response — many drawing on lessons learned from Deepwater Horizon. The industry also launched the organization I head, the Center for Offshore Safety.

Our Views: Lessons from Deepwater Horizon disaster still resonate nearly a decade later

The natural gas and oil industry is constantly evolving its standards and technologies to support our number one priority — the safety of our workers and the environment. We continuously evaluate and measure our own safety performance and focus on areas to further improve. Our industry has partnered with federal regulators and convened joint industry task forces to methodically examine every aspect of offshore operations to identify potential improvements in spill prevention, intervention, safety management and response capabilities. We’ve scrutinized all facets of the offshore drilling process from equipment and operating procedures to subsea well control and oil spill response, and we’ve developed new recommendations and standards that guide operations in both deep and shallow water exploration.

Offshore energy development is safer than ever thanks to these comprehensive efforts. Today’s exploration and production facilities leverage advanced technologies, materials and practices such as advanced well containment systems and response equipment to minimize incidents. The U.S. has established one of the world’s most sophisticated and well-coordinated spill response networks that can respond quickly to incidents and equipment failures.

Guest column: After BP spill, protecting the Gulf region requires even more money

The Center for Offshore Safety was created shortly after the Deepwater Horizon incident to promote the highest level of safety for offshore drilling, completions and operations. Fully dedicated to safety management and safety culture as recommended in the Presidential Commission report, the center works with independent third-party auditors and government regulators to reinforce the industry's safety culture, support good safety management audit tools and audit practices and ensure operational safety standards are communicated throughout the industry. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has already adopted three of the center's guidelines into its own regulations.

Tapping into our offshore resources is vital to meeting our future energy needs, and the U.S. natural gas and oil industry is committed to doing so while maintaining the highest level of safe and environmentally sound operations.

Charlie Williams

executive director, Center for Offshore Safety