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9/16/2014: The Coast Guard’s Outer Continental Shelf National Center of Expertise

Last week, Rear Adm. Paul Thomas, assistant commandant for prevention policy, initiated a discussion on Maritime Commons about safety culture on the Outer Continental Shelf.

To continue the dialogue, Maritime Commons spoke with Cmdr. Jim Rocco, detachment chief for the Outer Continental Shelf National Center of Expertise.

“The OCS NCOE is a key component towards maintaining the proficiency of Coast Guard offshore inspectors, addressing industry concerns, and generally facilitating regulatory compliance,” said Rocco.

Established in 2009, the OCS NCOE was created to address the growing and continually evolving offshore industry. Working with other government agencies and industry safety councils, the OCS NCOE is intent on collaboration as a means to facilitating offshore best practices.

“The unit provides the Coast Guard a clearing house, of sorts, to receive and digest industry information to better position and improve the Coast Guard’s oversight of offshore safety and environmental concerns,” said Rocco.

As part of a plan to better position and increase the Coast Guard’s presence among offshore industry stakeholders, the OCS NCOE established a new satellite office residing within the Coast Guard Sector Houston office in May of this year. Known as the OCS NCOE West Office, this location represents a strategic addition to the existing Houma, La. based facility. In addition to gaining an important foothold in the western hemisphere’s capital city for oil and gas development, standing up this office will also increase the level of service and support to Coast Guard offshore inspection personnel stationed along the Texas coast.

Mr. Bob Merchant, the Coast Guard’s resident offshore production and drilling expert heads up the new OCS NCOE West Office.

“His previous 38 years of industry experience prior to coming on board with the NCOE in 2009 has been invaluable to further cultivating industry-regulator rapport and training our own inspectors on the fundamentals of drilling and production,” said Rocco.

The pace at which the offshore drilling and production industry has evolved over the last five to seven years has greatly challenged standards organizations and regulators alike. The Coast Guard, other flag States, classification societies and an array of safety advisory committees are continually challenged with staying abreast of evolving marine and subsea technologies as the industry pursues energy resources in deeper water where higher reservoir pressure and temperature gradients exist. It will be critical that the Coast Guard keep pace with this growth and development to sustain offshore safety and the environment. The OCS NCOE will certainly provide the tools necessary to meet this challenge.

Join in on the discussion about offshore safety! Maritime Commons created a hashtag, #OCSsafetyculture, for its twitter account, @maritimecommons, to facilitate discussion and questions from the professional maritime community on safety culture on the Outer Continental Shelf.

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.

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