According to an Anadarko Petroleum executive, 80 percent of all offshore accidents are the result of human error. The rest are caused by structural or mechanical failure. This means that any offshore company's corporate culture needs to concentrate more on the safety of its workers. Jim Raney, the director of engineering and technology at Anadarko, said that stupidity cannot be fixed, and the solution to offshore accidents is leadership and a valid safety management system that is consistent with the Jones Act and maritime law. Texas City based petroleum companies and the entire offshore industry need to improve their efforts. Raney was speaking at an offshore safety panel during the first meeting of the Ocean Energy Safety Institute (OESI) at the University of Houston on May 12. The panel was the brainchild of three Texas universities in response to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil companies, he said, should learn from their risk assessments and not just post new safety regulations. There must be a call to action. Inactivity and 1,000-page reports are not the answer to the safety problems. Saying that the oil companies "did it" does not necessarily mean that anything was actually accomplished. Offshore operations depend on risk assessments for an overview of anything that could go wrong during the day-to-day operations on an offshore oil platform. However, they provide a false sense of entitlement and prevent a development of safety cultures because after they have been completed, oil companies feel there is nothing left to do. Raney also said that the problems are not in tools or structure reliability but rather in the personnel. The correct response to a problem must be made at the correct time. The chief offshore engineer for Exxon Mobil Corp., Ro Lokken, said that risk assessment decision making has been climbing the corporate ladder to the very top for over 25 years. Exxon Mobil's CEO has made decisions in the past on whether its employees could work in countries where security standards are very low. Offshore oil production operations are so complicated that they challenge the notion that safety policies and procedures should only matter in regard to offshore drilling. Lokken said that oil companies must guarantee safety during the integration of facilities, not only after they have begun production. Lokken spoke about the Exxon Mobil's offshore oil platforms in West Africa. There are over 30 surface wells and a tension leg platform processing some 250,000 barrels every day with numerous reservoirs and export systems. Well integrity and all aspects of operations at all facilities must be safe and reliable. He also stated that managing risks involves a lot more than just the drilling side of the equation. There are many other factors that come into play, which attract the attention of maritime law firms. Tad Patzek, the chairman of the petroleum engineering and geosystems department at the University of Texas, said that the consequences of getting it wrong for oil companies are extreme. He said things would have been very different if the 2010 Macondo blowout had happened to a company such as Statoil or Eni. They have far smaller balance sheets than Exxon Mobil. He estimated that BP would end up paying some $50 billion for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which would severely affect many other oil companies that don't have the kind of deep pockets and financial assets that BP has. He further stated that the stakes in the offshore oil production business are extraordinarily high, so the oil production companies have to be very careful about what they do and how they accomplish it. An offshore injury attorney could possibly advise. Hopefully, even though there isn't an immediate remedy to stupidity, there might be a way to work around it. Nothing is foolproof, but it's possible that safety standards could be upgraded to lessen the odds of human error having catastrophic results.