On Thursday, April 16, Lance Traves, Principal of Labyrinth Management Group, spoke to NEOCHMM.  Lance was retained by the US Department of Justice to be the Lead Auditor on the enforcement of the Consent Decree with Transocean. Transocean was a contractor to BP and operated the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and platform. This rig was involved with the blow out of the Macondo Well in the Gulf of Mexico. For 87 days in 2010, the blowout lead to the ongoing release of millions of barrels of oil in the Gulf. Consequently it required an extensive clean-up of oil from open waters and shorelines.

The Department of Justice wanted an Auditor with significant experience in auditing of complex issues, yet not previously connected to companies or the situation in the Gulf. Lance was the right man for the job. However, even before the onsite audit could be completed, Lance had to go through extensive training on the safety procedures related to long trips in helicopters and working on ocean based drilling rigs. Upon arriving on various sites, Lance had to audit many requirements of the Consent Decree, the individual elements of which extended many dozens of pages. Lance prepared a report for the Justice Department, the findings of which have been posted on line.

While Lance found that company had made a significant effort to comply with the provisions of the Consent Decree, the formal procedures needed to be extended down to even the lowest levels of workers on the rigs. Lance will be conducting additional rounds of audits in the future to document full compliance with the Consent Decree. From a practical perspective, Lance and others involved with audit, had to stay several days on the rig. When the drilling encountered any pockets of gas that resulted in minor off gassing during the drilling process, alarms would sound on the rig, even in the sleeping quarters. Lance found it very difficult to get a sound sleep with so many alarms and could empathize with those who may have wished to turn the alarms off, if only to be alert and refreshed for the next day of work. Lance also said that many of the safety procedures used on these rigs could be extended to land based operations.

NEOCHMM, wishes to thank Lance, one of our own, on a very interesting talk on an important issue that is not commonly encountered in our part of the country. Many of our original members do not ever recall a speaker covering such a topic and providing his perspective for one of our meetings.