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OCR for page 47
CONCLUSIONS Although the record of safety for offshore platforms has been excellent, the panel finds that the proposed third- party verification program for new offshore platforms will enhance the orderly extension of DCS oil and gas activities in an expeditious and efficient way by assuring the public and the Congress of the integrity of the fixed offshore platforms. A secondary benefit will be a more uniform application of current technology. Specific conclusions follow: 0 A commitment by the USGS for sufficient, qualified personnel is required for initial and later implementation of the program. 0 A transition period is needed during which time the verification procedure is established in order to avoid dis- ruption of the present orderly develop- ment of the OCS and to utilize existing technical experitise fully. 0 While a verification system can provide documentation that design, fabrication, installation, inspection, and maintenance is in compliance with applicable criteria, guides, specifications, and codes, it can reduce, but not entirely eliminate, the possibility that a structural failure may result from conditions caused by the environment or man. 0 An ineffective or poorly executed or overly detailed and rigid verification system can introduce inordinate delays that may disrupt the orderly develop- ment of energy resources on the OCS, and may even increase the probability of accidents. 0 There are four major functions of a verification system to assure that performance criteria are met: systems 47
OCR for page 47
43 management; establishment of environ- mental conditions, design and con- struction procedures; promulgation of recommended practices for design and construction; and implementation of the verification procedures. No organization or agency, as presently constituted, is entirely suitable for implementation of the total verification system or for providing the systems management function. The management of verification needs to reside in the USGS and not be delegated; the environmental design conditions and recommended practices for design and construction should be established by the USGS (utilizing input from industry, professional societies, universities, individual experts, and public groups). The implementation of verification procedures should be delegated to independent third parties nominated by the operator and approved by the USGS within appropriate guide- lines. The presently available technology (design procedures, standards, codes, and environmental data) is capable of supporting the initiation of an adequate verification system for the U.S. OCS platform locations. However, there are two critical factors in implementing the proposed third-party verification program: (a) Consolidation and documentation, on a continuing basis, of: — environmental design conditions, — recommended practices for design and construction, — qualifications for third-party personnel, and — verification implementation procedures.
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49 (b) The availability of personnel with technical capability and experience in offshore practice to support the associated effort, both in government and industry. Immediate requirements for the initiation and operation of a verification system are: ...adequate staffing in the USGS with qualified personnel to carry out the management function; ...establishment of a board of consul- tants. An adequate transition period is considered essential. The fully independent verifica- tion system should not be initiated until the USGS has the capability to manage it, and the associated policy, codes, specifications, and procedures needed for implementation of the system. In view of the difficulties likely to be encountered as offshore technology is applied in harsher environments, the current level of onoging research and • development in industry and government must be sustained and preferably raised to maintain and enhance the status of the technology. > The USGS verification personnel must be encouraged to participate in activities that will result in maintaining and up- dating their technical competence. Government personnel training through a cooperative program within the industry, such as is practiced by the U.S. Coast Guard and several other agencies, as well as specialized courses from universities having strong curricula in offshore struc- ture engineering, can help maintain technical proficiency. In addition, the USGS personnel should be encouraged to participate in professional society activities and conferences in the U.S. and overseas.
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50 The adequacy of the USGS statutory basis with respect to human safety on structures which may remain manned during storms needs clarification.