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API strengthens policy leadership with new Vice President of Upstream and names new Director for the Center for Offshore Safety


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WASHINGTON, May 19, 2020 — The American Petroleum Institute (API) today announced that Lem Smith has joined API as Vice President of Upstream Policy and that former U.S. Coast Guard Captain Russell Holmes has been named Director of the Center for Offshore Safety (COS). Holmes replaces Charlie Williams, who recently retired after leading the COS throughout its first decade.

“Lem and Russ bring unmatched knowledge and experience to the industry and will serve in key roles in advancing safe and responsible U.S. energy production,” API President and CEO Mike Sommers said. “These additions support our top strategic priorities to develop and implement practices and programs that help operators perform at the highest levels, while strengthening the integration of API’s advocacy efforts as we address increasingly complex issues facing the natural gas and oil industry.”

  • Lem Smith joins API from Squire Patton Boggs, where he was a Principal and Partner.  He previously served as Director, U.S. Government & Regulatory Affairs at Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc., Government Relations Manager at Anadarko Petroleum Corporation and Director of Government Relations for Kerr-McGee Corporation. He began his career on Capitol Hill with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott before moving to the House and working for U.S. Representatives Roger Wicker and Charlie Norwood.
  • Russell Holmes joins the Center for Offshore Safety following 27 years of active duty service with the U.S Coast Guard (USCG).  Holmes most recently served as Eighth District Officer in Charge Marine Inspections (OCMI), Investigations and Federal Maritime Security Coordinator (FMSC) for the Gulf of Mexico. In that role, he was USCG’s public face and central point of contact to the offshore oil and gas industry.

Offshore energy development has never been safer, largely because of industry leadership in developing new technologies and creating a proactive safety culture, bolstered by the work of the Center for Offshore Safety. Operating as a non-profit organization, the COS promotes continuous safety improvement for offshore drilling and completions to help operators execute the most advanced safety and environmental management systems. The Center draws on expertise and input from the U.S. oil and natural gas offshore industry and the regulatory community.

API represents all segments of America’s oil and natural gas industry. Its more than 600 members produce, process, and distribute most of the nation’s energy. The industry supports 10.9 million U.S. jobs and is backed by a growing grassroots movement of millions of Americans. API was formed in 1919 as a standards-setting organization. In its first 100 years, API has developed more than 700 standards to enhance operational and environmental safety, efficiency and sustainability.