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Managing material risks through efficient worst case discharge submission

The United States Government requires all oil companies to calculate and submit a report on the Worst Case Discharge (WCD), the rate and volume of hydrocarbon that could be released by a spill during drilling, before initiating drilling operations. The goal is the protection of wildlife, plant life, ecosystems and environmental resources by ensuring that operating companies can adequately prepare for and respond to any spills during drilling.

After a company submits a WCD, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) conduct their own WCD assessment. The results must be consistent or approvals to commence drilling will not be given, resulting in costly delays. Our Production Engineering Team were finding the process for completing WCDs for BHP’s proposed drilling activities in the Gulf of Mexico challenging and very time consuming, as there was no standard process for consistently gathering the data and performing the modelling work.

The team responded by developing and implementing a standardised and simplified approach to deliver accurate, high-quality WCD calculations. Through BOEM feedback and participation in industry leadership forums, the process has been refined to ensure it meets BOEM expectations. In addition to achieving a 100 per cent success rate for WCD approvals since 2013, the project has demonstrated the value of simplicity, improved productivity and enhanced our reputation with the regulatory authorities.