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