Loren Steffy wrote a great piece today about the 300 plus citations for safety and environmental violations issued to Black Elk Energy and the lack of consequences for those violations. As I’ve written about many times before, the safety culture in the oil and gas industry is something that is really difficult to change, especially in service companies that do sub-contract work for operators. Change and culture comes from the top. Until leaders of Gulf operators and service companies speak out publicly about their commitment to safety and environmental responsibility. When I ran operations for a large gas company earlier in my career, I had hundreds of field personnel; I spent a huge amount of my time in small meetings and one-on-ones talking about my personal experience when I was burned on a gas well location early in my career, and my own uncompromising commitment to safety. I didn’t send a “safety guy” to meet with employees…I did it myself. During the time I was in that position, our safety record continually improved.
An organization, no matter how large or how small, always mirrors its leader. If the leader is openly committed to safe and environmentally responsible operations, so will his/her organization. It’s a simple truth that a surprising number of senior executives haven’t learned.
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