(EnergyAsia, October 3 2011, Monday) — The Gulf of Mexico tragedy could have been prevented if the entire operations were automated and tougher regulations existed to enforce safety operating procedures, said Jason Urso, Honeywell’s Chief Technology Officer at the Honeywell Users Group event in Fremantle, West Australia on August 21 to 24 2011.

“A lot of the problems on the Deepwater Horizon rig could have been avoided if there was automation. Drilling rig platforms are mechanical and tend to operate in isolation in remote locations. This rig wasn’t connected by any automation devices and wasn’t remotely monitored,” he said.

“During life-and-death situations, people are forced to make many decisions quickly. But you don’t have time to think, and people can forget what the procedures are. Should we shut it off or not? Should we abandon ship?”

Mr Urso said he is fully confident that an automated and remotely-monitored system would help reduce accidents in many process plants around the world.

“The process system can be designed to automatically shut down or take decisions to prevent a breakdown or an escalation of an incident.

The Honeywell system takes away the guesswork and uncertainties by mandating the responses when certain events occur,” he said.

“Unfortunately, this will have to be accomplished through tougher regulation that will enforce the installation of automation and processes to reduce accidents.

“Companies also need to increase investment in training plant operators and people in the process business.”