The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Center for Offshore Safety Names Director, Former Shell Chief Scientist

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted March 7, 2012

The naming of Charlie Williams as the first executive director of the new Center for Offshore Safety marks an important milestone in America's efforts to safely and responsibly develop its vast offshore energy resources.

Williams leads the center after 40 years with Shell, where most recently he was the company's chief scientist for well engineering and production technology. His work included developing high-pressure, high-temperature wells and specializing in drilling and completion equipment for extreme environments, such as deepwater exploration and development. Williams was introduced Wednesday:

"We have assembled the best and the brightest minds to help ensure we develop America's vast resources in the safest manner possible. Our top priority is to develop practices and programs that will help operators perform at their very best in implementing safety and environmental management systems."

The center's governing board includes operators, drilling contractors, service and supply contractors and trade association representatives. The center will help deepwater operators implement advanced safety and environmental oversight management systems, an audit checklist and third-party review systems so operators can measure the effectiveness of those systems against standards developed by API and its members. Williams:

"The role of the (center) is to provide a forum for industry to come together and focus on developing programs, sponsoring activities and sharing good practices aimed at continually learning from and improving industry's safety performance."

Williams said the center faces start-up challenges common to most new organizations, including building a staff and prioritizing its efforts:

"Another unique challenge is finalizing all the audit tools, training auditors, and verifying auditors. This is a very large new effort and one of the first things the center must address.  Although our top goal is a forum supporting continuous learning and improvement of Safety and Environmental Management Systems, auditing of SEMS is both a center and regulatory requirement."

Key to the center is connecting industry efforts to improve safe and responsible offshore operations with the American public. Williams:

"We are committed to communicating with the public and communities regarding the programs and goals of the center. The industry is fully committed to producing oil and gas safely and responsibly.  The creation of the center, the dedication of resources to it, and the broad participation of industry in the center clearly demonstrates this commitment.  The center also demonstrates an enhanced commitment by industry in creating a 100 percent safety focused forum for coming together, learning, and continuously improving safety and environmental management systems and enhancing safety culture."

API President and CEO Jack Gerard welcomed Williams' selection:

"Safe, responsible development of our offshore oil and natural gas is critical for U.S. energy security, and it provides U.S. families and businesses with affordable and reliable energy for our future."

Learn more about the Center, its governance and information on how to become a member at


Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.