Offshore Speaker Focuses on Lessons from the Past

Published on February 7, 2012

“After Deepwater: Safety in U.S. Waters” Event Features
Speaker from U.S. Dept. of Interior

"If we don't learn from past accidents, we are set for failure," said Lars Herbst, regional director of the Gulf of Mexico OCS Region Bureau of Safety Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), during a discussion on safety in offshore drilling.

Safety in the oil and gas industry has long been a national concern, spurring increased discussion and criticism in April 2010 after a blowout on the Deepwater Horizon rig caused an explosion that killed 11 workers and caused the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, receiving national and global attention.

The aftermath of the explosion prompted a closer look at how regulations on offshore drilling are enforced, with governmental agencies, special committees and researchers all weighing in.

The University of Houston C. T. Bauer College of Business hosted an event for the campus community on Feb. 2 called “After Deepwater: Safety in U.S. Waters,” featuring Lars Herbst, who is charged with leading a division of the U.S. Department of the Interior that works to promote safety, protect the environment and conserve offshore resources through regulatory oversight and enforcement.

Herbst, who is regional director of the Gulf of Mexico OCS Region Bureau of Safety Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), spoke in Stubblefield Auditorium to a large audience of students, faculty, staff, alumni and others, emphasizing the importance of remaining vigilant as a global society.

“We have to utilize the knowledge and lessons learned from this area, and it’s not just for the U.S., but for everywhere,” he said. “If we don’t learn from past accidents, we are set for failure.”

The memory of Deepwater is fresh, Herbst added, but regulations are shaped by ongoing improvements in technology and lessons learned over decades of offshore drilling. He noted in particular the 1969 Santa Barbara blowout, which was the largest spill of its kind in U.S. waters at the time and led to changes in regulatory and legislative policies relating to the industry.

“This is not just in the U.S. — we’re looking globally. The changes that have been made, they’re all tied together,” Herbst said. “This is not a niche point in time; this has occurred throughout the world many times over.”

Bringing in speakers like Herbst reinforces Bauer College’s role as a resource for the business community in important sectors, like energy, said Dean Latha Ramchand.

“Our goal is really to be a resource,” she added. “We want to bring in speakers and experts who can weigh in on what is happening in the world, and as for management expertise in the energy industry in Houston, I have not seen any business school doing what we do.”

For more information on other energy-related events this semester at Bauer College, click here.

By Amanda Sebesta

Posted Under: Recognition

2 replies to “Offshore Speaker Focuses on Lessons from the Past

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  2. Mike

    Regulations are great, but there must be a way to enforce them, not to mention a better way to hold companies accountable when an accident does happen.

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