BP has insisted that real time data, and a tight control of staff and technology processes, will be at the heart of turning round its troubled safety record.

Ten months on from its disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill, BP said it was taking drastic action to change its day to day operations and how it uses software. Recent official reports from the US government have heavily criticised BP’s use of monitoring systems and the type of data it relied on.

The British oil giant is facing a £13.5 billion US government lawsuit, which in strong language blames it and its partners for failing to use “the best available and safest drilling technology to monitor and evaluate” the Deepwater Horizon drill’s conditions and to prevent a spill. BP has said the existence of a lawsuit does not constitute a finding of liability.

As BP reported it had crashed to a £3.1 billion annual loss after all the Gulf of Mexico restoration costs – its first loss since 1992 – chief executive Bob Dudley insisted the company would reshape, simplify, and dramatically improve processes and safety technology.

At the core of process change is the company’s existing Operating Management System, developed in-house and built around Microsoft SharePoint and Performance Point. It is implemented across the company’s operations in locally-tailored modules, following global standards.

OMS is used integrate local standards and management systems, set priorities, define processes and measure performance, and is accessible on BP PCs as well as mobile devices used by engineers on oil rigs.

BP has also come under heavy criticism for the type of data it uses on rigs, after the US government investigation found monitoring systems presented complex information to engineers, that was difficult to follow. It also questioned the accuracy of pressure gauge data being fed back to the rig.

Dudley today told BP investors that the company would focus on using a set of advanced software tools to improve how it drills and monitors safety.

Using the ‘Field of the Future’ system it has developed in-house on oil industry standard technology, BP aims to improve communication and knowledge management on its rigs.

Equally important, Dudley said, are real-time reservoir data systems and real time sand monitoring – aimed at providing accurate and timely information.

"2010 will rightly be remembered for the tragic accident and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and it is clear that as a result BP is a company in transition,” said Dudley. “I am determined that we will emerge from this episode as a company that is safer, stronger, more sustainable, more trusted and also more valuable.”

BP awaits the findings of further reports into its actions in the Gulf of Mexico, including a highly technical report due later this year from the National Academy of Engineers. The US government lawsuit, if it reaches court, is not expected to proceed until next year.