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U.S. Regulators Probe Subsea Oil-Well Bolt Failures
U.S. regulators are "stepping up efforts to figure out why metal bolts used to connect subsea oil equipment such as blowout preventers keep breaking, a sign that concerns about these failures are growing," according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said it is forming a working group, the Interagency Bolt Action Team, to assess the potential impact posed to offshore oil drilling operations.
“The failure of bolts in subsea oil and gas operations presents a major risk for offshore workers and the environment,” stated BSEE director Brian Salerno. “I have challenged offshore operators, drilling companies, manufacturers and industry organizations to be more proactive in addressing this safety issue and it makes sense to bring our federal counterparts into this important effort.”
Federal team members, including experts and regulators from bolts-related industries, will work together to identify root causes of the bolt/connector failures, review industry standards, and develop solutions for future safe use of bolts and connectors.
“By engaging with subject matter experts and individuals with knowledge of materials science and metallurgical shearing and corrosion, the team will be the first cross-agency group to address the causes and solutions to the bolt problem,” Salerno said.
BSEE steps already taken to address the issue include work with OEMs, a BSEE Safety Alert, a quality control study, and "a call to industry to develop better standards and practices and to be proactive in remedying the defects seen in bolt failures."
The BSEE said it has "been working to address a recurring problem that raises serious safety and environmental hazard concerns - faulty connector bolts in safety critical equipment currently deployed offshore."
According to the BSEE: "There have been a number of failures - beginning over a decade ago around 2003 - of bolts that are used to connect blowout preventers, risers, and other subsea equipment."
The BSEE created a webpage at bsee.gov "so that government, industry, and other stakeholders can share the latest information related to these failures, including: root cause analyses of bolt/connector failures, safety alerts, industry standards and guidance, and other connector and bolt related information and guidance."
Source: Global Fastener News
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