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NASA Drafted to Help Oil Industry Reduce ‘Black Swan’ Type Risk

Deloitte LLP and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced a joint partnership to help oil and natural gas companies reduce the risk of so-called black swan disasters such as BP Plc’s Macondo spill.

Exploration in the oilfield and in outer space share similar risks, including harsh environments, remote operations, complex engineering and a heavy reliance on contractors, David Traylor, principal at Deloitte, said today in a signing ceremony at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

“How often has there been a Macondo?” William McArthur, a former astronaut now in charge of NASA’s safety and mission assurance program, told reporters after the announcement. “That’s the primary thing we’ll look at.”

Deloitte’s Houston-based Center for Energy Solutions has talked with super majors, independent producers and midstream companies about the new service with NASA, John England, head of Deloitte’s oil and gas practice, said.

In addition to improved risk modeling from NASA, Deloitte will offer its oil and gas customers the space agency’s experience in operating with its rigorous safety checks, Traylor said.

NASA acknowledged its safety experience has come the hard way.

“A smart person learns from his mistake,” said McArthur, a retired U.S. Army colonel who flew on three space shuttle missions and lived for about six months on the International Space Station. “We’re pretty smart here at NASA because we made a lot of mistakes.”

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