Discussion Paper

Preliminary Empirical Assessment of Offshore Production Platforms in the Gulf of Mexico

Jan 12, 2011 | Lucija Anna Muehlenbachs, Mark A Cohen, Todd Gerarden


This paper reports on a preliminary analysis of performance indicators on 3,020 platforms operating in the Gulf of Mexico between 1996 and 2010. Statistical analysis reveals that companyreported incidents (such as blowouts, fires, injuries, and pollution) increase with water depth, controlling for platform characteristics such as age, quantity of oil and gas produced, and number of producing wells. In addition to company-reported incidents, we examine government inspections and the type ofenforcement action (warning, component shut-in, facility shut-in, or civil penalty review) following an inspection. Fewer incidents of noncompliance are detected during inspections on deepwater platformscompared with shallow-water platforms; however, the magnitude of the effect of depth on noncompliance is not large. We provide a preliminary analysis of the effect of prior findings of noncompliance, suggesting that noncompliance is persistent. We also find significant variability in both self-reported incidents and noncompliance across leaseholders.