By: Debra Phillips, Vice President of API’s Global Industry Services
As the U.S. will soon become a net exporter of total energy, API is continuing to lead the way on safety and environmental protection through the development of key industry standards.
API was formed in 1919 as a standards-setting organization and is the global leader in convening subject matter experts across segments to establish, maintain, and distribute consensus standards for the oil and natural gas industry. In its first 100 years, API developed more than 700 standards to enhance operational safety, environmental protection and sustainability across the industry, especially through the global adoption of its standards.
API standards are developed under the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accreditation process, ensuring that the API standards are recognized not only for their technical rigor but also their third-party accreditation which facilitates acceptance by state, federal and increasingly international regulators.
API continues to be the global gold standard and has been cited 750 times in federal regulations promulgated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Coast Guard, Federal Trade Commission, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. Countries continue to seek API’s standards when it comes to environmental safety practices, and have been referenced more than 200 times by regulatory bodies overseas in China, United Arab Emirates, Russia, Mexico, Brazil, India, the United Kingdom, and Canada.
Globally, offshore energy development is poised to grow, with significant new finds spurring the construction of some of the largest floating offshore production facilities ever built.
Just this past month, API released a suite of new Integrity Management (IM) standards outlining how floating production platforms should function to improve operational efficiency, safety, and environmental protection.
The new standards were recently published as the world saw the largest offshore floating production platforms ever deployed sent off to sea in the first half of the year. The floating facilities were built using API standards that cover such super structures, with the latest IM standards continuing to undergird the industry’s experience in safely operating these facilities.
IM standards aim to keep production safe and reliable as more of these ship-like floating platforms are increasingly relied upon to tap some of the largest offshore natural gas deposits ever discovered.
API’s standards team spent over three years developing these most recent IM standards to address three key areas in the operation of these floating platforms: moorings, which keep floating facilities safely anchored to the seabed; manage the riser pipes that bring oil and natural gas from the seafloor to the surface for storage or transportation; and lastly, address the floating rigs themselves, which operate topside to keep the crew and cargo safe without incident.
The standards address some of the largest types of floating facility currently in operation: ship-shaped floating facilities, cylindrical spars that are partially submerged under water while being tethered to the seabed, and, tension-legged floating platforms that are kept afloat using a buoyant hull that is tethered vertically to the seabed using high tension cables.
The largest of the ship-hulled facilities can both extract oil and natural gas from the seabed, and service liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker vessels to export the fuel to market directly from the drill site. The ability to both produce oil and natural gas and get it to the market requires a high degree of precision and state-of-the-art technology, engineering, and expertise to achieve.
API standards help ensure that each component in these complex energy-producing facilities work together holistically as a system. API believes these standards endorse the best way to monitor and keep these facilities working without incident and with the highest degree of safety for workers and the environment.
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