NTSB Bulletin Targets Helicopter Oil Rig Safety

Federal agency moves to mitigate oil rig accidents.

Helicopter Oil Rig

Helicopter Oil Rig

The National Transportation Safety Board has issued a series of recommendations for helicopter operators, specifically those flying to or near oil platforms. The recommendations came as a result of several incidents and accidents that resulted from complete and partial turbine engine failures that were attributed to the ingestion of gas discharges from oil rigs.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), Helicopter Safety Advisory Conference (HSAC), the American Petroleum Institute, PHI, an oil platform helicopter operator that experienced an accident in 2011, and others have issued safety alerts and recommended practices to help mitigate the risks associated with the ingestion of methane gas emitted from oil platforms. However, the NTSB has found these measures insufficient to help prevent an accident.

While several federal agencies regulate various aspects of the oil and natural gas industry no federal agency specifically oversees the safety of helicopter operations to and from offshore oil platforms, the NTSB said. Therefore, NTSB recommends that BSEE take on this responsibility. The agency also recommends that the BSEE, U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Department of the Interior work together to develop and implement systems and procedures for oil platform operators to mitigate the risks associated with the ingestion of gas discharges.

Furthermore, the NTSB has requested that API finalizes its revisions of Recommended Practice 2L, which addresses the venting of raw gases as it relates to helicopter operations.

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