PEs Not Mentioned in Deepwater Report

The National Academy of Engineering’s final reporton the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster from April 2010 does not specifically list oversight from professional engineers as a potential safeguard for future rig operations.

It does, however, call for independent oversight from qualified parties on many aspects of rig safety, equipment, and operations. The offshore drilling industry should also establish an effective safety culture to prevent future potential disasters.

Paul Bommer, P.E., a member of the Academy’s panel, said that, because each state licenses engineers and the qualifications and privileges for PEs vary from state to state, it would be difficult to endorse PE oversight generally for what is a federally regulated endeavor.

Donald Winter, chairman of the committee and former Secretary of the Navy, said the panel endorsed oversight similar to that in the United Kingdom, where independent well examiners oversee certain aspects of offshore drilling. Those overseers are sometimes chartered engineers, though the title is not required. The panel favored endorsing independent oversight rather than limiting oversight to a specific group.

You can access the report and other documents related to the investigation on the NAE’s Web site.

Published December 14, 2011 by NSPE

Filed under: regulations, PE license,


The reason PEs are not mentioned is because the PE lobby is very weak and there is not an authorative voice representing real PE issues for PEs. The NSPE has dropped the ball and has turned their focus on mostly irrelevant issues - that in many cases are issues with PEs sitting on both sides. The paramount focus of the NSPE is to put back on track and strengthen the PE lobby influence by specifically focusing on the personnel practices of the Federal government - the greatest offender in relation to PE employment issues.  For instance, the authorities having jurisdiction for the Deepwater rig is both the USCG and the MMS. At one time, the USCG had a Navigation and Inspection Circular (NVIC) 10-82 that permitted PE's, along with ABS agents to interpret USCG regulations and rules to perform inspections that were largely accepted by the USCG. Inasmuch as ABS agents are lumped in with PEs in this old circular, there was nothing insuring that ABS agents were PEs or were qualified by any measure. However, the new NVIC 10-2 ( which was modified sometime after 2001 (There is no date ont he document indicating when the change took place) struck any language regarding PEs, but strengthened the position of ABS agents. Many PEs lost substantive work in this regard.  This item and similar issues is where the NSPE should be focused

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 9:47 PM by J.Ruggieri, P.E.

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