As we mark the one-year anniversary of the Macondo oil well spill in the Gulf of Mexico, it is important that we remember the 11 workers who died in that accident, their families and the communities along the Gulf coast that were most affected by this incident. They remind us that, in our efforts to continuously improve safety in our operations, there can be no let-up. And just as we should not lose sight of what happened that day, we should not minimize our industry's unprecedented response to the accident. And we should remain mindful of our industry's strong safety record, as exemplified by the fact that, before the spill, more than 42,000 offshore wells were drilled safely in the Gulf of Mexico over a span of 60 years.
Our commitment to safety has been the guiding force of our operations in the Gulf from the very beginning. It remains our top priority, and since the April 20 spill, our industry has worked on its own and with the federal government to make all our operations even safer.
Following the accident, the industry's immediate goals were to help BP stop the leak, clean up the oil and begin the process of restoring communities. At the same time, however, we took immediate steps to improve safety and to advance spill-response capabilities, creating industry-wide task forces to identify and learn from any gaps in operations or practices. The government has incorporated a number of recommendations from these task forces into new safety rules and these recommendations have already helped to further enhance the industry's preparedness. API members have a long history of establishing and following best practices for safe operations - including training, operational procedures and equipment requirements through a globally recognized standards and certification program. This program is regularly reviewed to drive performance improvement.
And we will go on working with the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) as we move forward with critical energy development in the Gulf.
Two recent and significant developments must be acknowledged:
- Two industry consortiums have successfully designed and developed advanced engineering systems to respond in the unlikely event of another deepwater spill; and
- API announced the formation of the industry Center for Offshore Safety that will be open to all companies that operate in deepwater exploration and production.
Taken together, these actions demonstrate our industry's commitment to the highest level of safety for our operations - to protecting our workers, our oceans and our shorelines.
They should reassure the government that it is time to return to full production in the Gulf of Mexico and in other areas. Poll after poll has demonstrated that this is what Americans want. That is not surprising, because Americans understand that we can do this safely. And they know that expanded access to these areas will help our nation enhance its energy security, increase government revenue to help reduce the national debt, spur job creation and foster economic growth.
Jack Gerard is president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute