BP Creates New Safety and Risk Division

On Sept. 29, BP leadership announced plans to create a new safety division with “sweeping powers” to oversee and audit the company’s operations around the world. Incoming CEO Bob Dudley called safety and risk management “our most urgent priority.”

According to BP, the new Safety & Operational Risk function will have authority to intervene in all aspects of BP’s technical activities. It will have its own expert staff embedded in BP’s operating units, including exploration projects and refineries. It also will be responsible for ensuring that all operations are carried out to common standards and for auditing compliance with those standards.

The new organization is designed to strengthen safety and risk management across the BP group. Mark Bly, head of safety and operations, will lead the new division and report directly to Dudley.

The company said the decision to establish the new function follows the Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico and BP’s investigation into the disaster. It is one of a number of major changes announced by Dudley as he prepares to take over his new role on Oct. 1.

Dudley also disclosed that BP will restructure its upstream segment from a single business into three functional divisions – exploration, development and production – and to carry out a detailed and wide-ranging review of how it manages third-party contractors.

“These are the first and most urgent steps in a program I am putting in place to rebuild trust in BP – the trust of our customers, of governments, of our employees and of the world at large,” said Dudely. “The changes are in areas where I believe we most clearly need to act, with safety and risk management our most urgent priority.”

In a message to BP staff worldwide, Dudley said: “This is a deeply challenging time for BP. The Macondo incident was a tragedy that claimed the lives of 11 people, caused injury to many others and had a widespread environmental impact.

“Our response to the incident needs to go beyond deepwater drilling. There are lessons for us relating to the way we operate, the way we organize our company and the way we manage risk.”

BP has come under fire numerous times for various alleged safety hazards and violations over the years, particularly in connection with the 2005 Texas City, Texas, refinery explosion, where 15 workers lost their lives, and the more recent Gulf oil spill.

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