At ExxonMobil we’ve taken a lot of questions lately about our approach to safety and what can be done to prevent situations like the one now in the Gulf of Mexico. Our answer goes back more than 20 years — to the Exxon Valdez accident.
The Valdez incident was a low point in ExxonMobil’s history. But as Rex Tillerson said in his statement to Congress last week, it was also a turning point. In its aftermath, we launched a top-to-bottom review of our operations and then implemented a system that today guides every operating decision we make on a daily basis.
That system — our Operations Integrity Management System — consists of 11 separate elements that measure and mitigate safety, security, health, and environmental risk to people, the environment, and the communities in which we operate. Fundamental to this system is assessing the risk involved in our operations – from offshore platforms, to service stations, to offices – and then developing plans to mitigate and manage that risk over the operation’s life.
The standards and requirements embedded within our integrity management system dictate our approach to drilling, as they do for all of our other operations. ExxonMobil has drilled 7,778 wells worldwide over the last 10 years. Of these, 262 were in water depths of 2,500 feet or more, including 20 in the Gulf of Mexico. For all wells, we:
- Have documented standards for equipment and well design.
- Use advanced technology to predict pressures and model resource flow to reduce risk.
- Require management approval for any deviations in established procedures.
- Ensure everyone onboard the rig, contractors included, knows their roles and responsibilities and understands that all operations must comply with ExxonMobil’s standards.
- Test this knowledge through regular drills and exercises.
You can read more about OIMS in our detailed publication. In it, you’ll see that ExxonMobil’s systematic and disciplined approach to safety has produced significant improvements, including declines in marine spills, lost-time incident rates and emissions. Our business is stronger as a result of putting safety first.