On April 20, 2010, a well control incident allowed hydrocarbons to escape from BP's Macondo well onto Transocean's Deepwater Horizon, resulting in explosions and a fire on the rig. Eleven people lost their lives, and 17 others were injured. The fire, fed by hydrocarbons from the well, continued for 36 hours until the rig sank. Hydrocarbons continued to flow from the reservoir through the wellbore and the blowout preventer (BOP) for 87 days, causing a massive offshore oil spill.

Apart from being a human tragedy, the incident inevitably also had significant impacts on Statoil and other deepwater operators in the GoM. The US government quickly adopted new standards and regulations after the event, including halting 33 deepwater drilling operations in the Gulf for up to six months. As a result of the latter measure, two wells drilled by Statoil as operator were temporarily suspended. Like many others in the industry, Statoil offered help and resources to those involved in the wake of the accident and the subsequent oil leak.

We are now using information from the incident to learn lessons and further mitigate incidents in connection with our own operations. We are conducting a critical review of our own systems and procedures, and how they are implemented and complied with in every country in which we operate. The findings of the initial reports are providing the basis for the actions we are implementing to close potential gaps in our own operations.

We are participating in several Joint Industry Projects (JIPs), where our objective is to incorporate the lessons learnt from the different activities into our management system in order to ensure organisational learning. An OLF (Norwegian Oil Industry Association) project headed by Statoil has been established to follow up the GOM incident in relation to the Norwegian continental shelf. OLF largely builds on work done by its member companies and is cooperating closely with the OGP (International Association of Oil & Gas producers) project in order to avoid duplicating efforts. We are also heavily engaged in OGP initiatives and have joined three sub-task forces in the OGP Global Industry Response Group. The task forces address Well design, Oil Spill Response and Capping and Containment.

We already have a sharp focus on risk assessments, compliance, simplification and improvement of our procedures and the technical integrity of our facilities. What is certain, however, is that there will be increasing focus on our activities and how we control our systems and procedures. In short, the value of accuracy, quality and good HSE performance will increase. The accident in the Gulf of Mexico reminds us that we can never relax our efforts to constantly improve in relation to HSE.