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2017 WCR annual report cover

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BTS releases the 2017 Annual Report: Blowout Prevention System Safety

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) has released the 2017 Annual Report: Blowout Prevention System Safety, which provides information on equipment component failures occurring during drilling and non-drilling operations on rigs in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The reporting of such events is mandated by the Well Control Rule (WCR), published by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), Department of the Interior. The publication of this report represents a groundbreaking collaboration between industry and government stakeholders and is a significant milestone in promoting safety on the OCS. The report includes an analysis of equipment component failures and other key information such as root causes of failure events, follow-up response to failures, and opportunities to improve data quality. In 2017, the first full year of mandated WCR reporting, 18 of 25 operators in the Gulf of Mexico reported 1,129 rig equipment component failure events, and the notifications involved 45 of 59 rigs operating in the Gulf of Mexico. The 18 reporting operators represent 90.2 percent of new wells drilled in the Gulf of Mexico. The report begins by analyzing aggregate equipment component failure data and then, in separate sections, presents statistics on the reported events for the two major types of BOP stacks (subsea and surface). Both types of BOP stacks were associated with component failures and most notifications were associated with the more complex subsea BOP stack (92.5 percent).


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  • The top four reporting operators represented 81.8 percent of reported component events and 32.7 percent of new wells spud in the Gulf of Mexico for 2017.
  • There was a decrease in overall reporting from 2016 to 2017. The event reporting rate adjusted for rig activity (defined as events per 1,000 BOP days) decreased from 122.3 in 2016 to 59.8 in 2017.
  • There was an increase in reporting equipment component failures while not in operation for rigs with subsea BOP stacks. The percent of subsea, not-in-operation notifications for 2017 was 86.4 as compared to 79.8 percent for 2016.
  • There was a decrease in the rate of unplanned stack pulls for rigs with subsea BOP stacks. In 2016 the rate was 7.2 percent and in 2017 it was 5.6 percent.
  • Based on follow-up documents submitted to SafeOCS, only 12 of the 18 components involved in unplanned stack pulls were sent to shore for further analysis by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or a third party, despite the expectation of a root cause failure analysis (RCFA) for every stack pull.
  • Of 1,044 subsea events in 2017, one reported loss of containment of synthetic oil based mud (drilling fluid) during in-operation rig activity. No surface stack events resulted in loss of containment.
  • Leaks remained the most frequently reported observed failure and wear and tear remained the most frequently reported root cause of failure events in 2017 as they were in 2016.







Send email icon  SafeOCS@dot.gov Phone icon  1-844-OCS-FRST (1-844-627-3778) Location icon  SafeOCS, BTS-USDOT, P.O. Box 23295, Washington, DC 20026-3295