As work continues to plug the leaking BP plc oil well in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), the American Petroleum Institute (API) said Tuesday the oil and natural gas industry has formed two task forces to address the short- and long-term issues related to offshore equipment and operating practices.

The offshore equipment task force will bring together equipment manufacturers, industry subsea equipment specialists and deepwater contracts, and will focus on the maintenance, response and testing of blowout-preventer equipment and remotely operated vehicles. Failure of the blowout preventer is suspected as the cause of the explosion on Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon rig and subsequent spill.

The offshore operating procedures task force will leverage the expertise of offshore operators and members of the service sector to strengthen practices related to drilling and completion of deepwater wells. The API, which represents major oil and natural gas producers, said it expects government participation in both task forces.

The task forces will soon bring together experts to identify and further reduce risks of offshore operations, according to API. They also will work in conjunction with the teams that BP is presently assembling and help ensure that all response efforts are coordinated. And in the longer term the task forces will share lessons learned from the review of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and update API standards on an ongoing basis, the producer group said.

“This tragic incident requires that we re-double our commitment to continually improve safety and response practices,” said API President Jack Gerard. “We owe it to the workers who were lost and to the others, particularly along the Gulf Coast, bearing the burden of the accident. We also owe it to the nation that has placed its trust in us to responsibly develop oil and natural gas off its coasts.”

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