The oil and natural gas industry will have access to the same kind of risk-management practices used by astronauts and the technicians on the ground who support them through an alliance formed by Deloitte Center for Energy Solutions and the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC).

“Activities like deepwater drilling, undersea production and pipeline operations all face the same kind of ‘black swan’ events that pose a threat to space exploration,” said David Traylor, a principal at Deloitte & Touche LLP. “Our strategic alliance with NASA will integrate the space agency’s 50-plus years of experience preventing and recovering from catastrophic accidents in human space flight into Deloitte’s advanced-risk strategies — applying state-of-science capabilities to oil and gas companies back here on earth.

As part of the alliance, Deloitte and NASA will offer a range of services in the risk-sciences arena, such as risk modeling and simulation, to help oil and gas companies eliminate blind spots in their decision-making. Such services apply sophisticated risk-modeling and simulation tools and techniques like Bayesian networks and agent-based modeling to reduce uncertainties in engineering and operations at oil and gas companies, in much the same way NASA has done with its space program.

During the 135th and final Space Shuttle mission, NASA used risk-modeling and simulation techniques to evaluate the potential risk scenarios of using a Soyuz spacecraft to rescue a stranded crew from the International Space Station, with no backup shuttle capability. This process identified risks linked with the Russian vehicle and helped drive a decision to extend crew time on the space station, Deloitte and NASA said.

Deloitte and NASA’s offerings will include “dynamically improving risk-management techniques,” such as artificial-intelligence tools applied to remote decision-support systems. In addition, Deloitte and NASA will offer services aimed at helping oil and gas companies monitor the effectiveness of their risk culture among employees and contractors.

“Energy companies facing catastrophic consequences from low probability risks will now have a range of tools and techniques to minimize the probability of these risks and improve their overall safety culture,” said veteran astronaut Bill McArthur Jr., director of safety and mission assurance at JSC.

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