Leadership and HSE lessons: Deepwater Horizon

CEDEP MD Thomas Hinterseer speaks at Oil Gas Denmark’s Annual Task Force Zero conference

For over 25 years, CEDEP MD Thomas Hinterseer held senior leadership roles within the international oil and gas industry, including over a decade with Transocean, the world’s largest offshore drilling contractor.  In 2010, Thomas was VP of Human Resources at Transocean when the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster struck in the Gulf of Mexico. This tragic event had a significant impact on the way the industry approached Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) with the ultimate goal now zero harm.

Thomas is a regular HSE speaker at industry events within this rapidly transforming industry and only last week shared his lived experiences at the Oil Gas Denmark’s Annual Task Force Zero conference in Esbjerg, Denmark.

Recognising human factors

Based on a review of the lessons learned from events such as Piper Alpha and Deepwater Horizon,  Thomas’s presentation addresses some of the essential elements for zero harm and how to create the context where leaders, teams and individuals are sufficiently aware, engaged and enabled to make the right decision at the right time.

He also examines the critical question of, what is my role and responsibility for HSE as the leader of a team, department or organisation? 

“The oil and gas industry has gone through dramatic and industry shaping events which have significantly impacted the way the industry is now thinking, acting and behaving. The culture has changed and we now operate in a safer goal setting era, yet at times, it seems to be a more regulated and prescriptive environment,” he explains.  

Thomas says adherence to rules and procedures and enforcing strict compliance alone is not sufficient to get the industry to zero harm.

“The recognition of the importance of human factors and taking into account that the individual has a major role to play in the proper understanding, interpretation and use of the rules is a key ingredient to getting to zero.”

CEDEP’s Safety Leadership Academy

Thomas has been instrumental in establishing CEDEP’s Safety Leadership Academy in partnership with SPE International and Lime Core, and supported by IOGP. His recent presentation is part of this engaging and unique leadership programme which involves in-depth discussions, reflections and insights into real HSE challenges and concerns. This approach leads to concrete actions and real impact on participants’ next day operations.

At CEDEP we are running the Leadership and Safety programme with over 2000 Alumni from diverse companies.

To watch Thomas’s conference presentation in full, please click here

And for more information about our SPE CEDEP Safety Leadership Academy, please contact Muriel PAILLEUX at