Exclusive Content
25 Jun 2015

Paper Deadline Extended for International HSE Conference

The deadline for submitting a paper for the 2016 SPE International Conference and Exhibition on Health, Safety, Security, Environment, and Social Responsibility has been extended to 27 July. The conference will be 11–13 April in Stavanger, Norway, and the theme is “Sustaining Our Future Through Innovation and Collaboration.”

StavangerThe conference is the oil and gas industry’s premier global event highlighting best practices and challenges. In 2016, this biennial conference will celebrate 25 years of bringing together experts from all over the world to share new ideas, process improvements, technological advancements, and innovative applications to enhance HSE performance. It also provides a neutral forum where a wide range of perspectives and concerns from a variety of stakeholders can be explored. Since its inception in the Netherlands in 1991, this conference has been held in 11 countries, a testimony to its global scope and application.

This year’s conference will focus on the need for collaboration and—in light of the current global climate—the imperative to maximize HSE programs and help achieve the needs of shareholders and stakeholders alike.

More than 1,200 professionals are expected to attend the 2016 event. Alongside the conference, an exhibition will showcase the latest technologies, products, and industry services from around the world.

Papers are sought in the following categories:

  • Health in Communities and the Working Environment
  • Occupational and Process Safety
  • Sustainability
  • HSE Management
  • Environment
  • Social Responsibility
  • Conference Topics

Authors are encouraged to develop papers featuring multidiscliplinary approaches that highlight HSE benefits such as innovation, collaboration, and value creation. Additionally, authors may consider proposing a paper that features these HSE benefits within specific elements of the oil and gas sector value chain.

The conference also features a special drilling track, so authors are asked to indicate if their abstracts relate specifically to drilling.

Read more about the conference here.

Submit an abstract here.

24 Jun 2015

Situational Awareness, Cognitive Biases Affect Decision Making

Decision making is a complicated human behavior that affects every level of an organization’s operations. The common practice is to focus on outcomes when judging the validity of decisions. However, it is more important to examine the process by which the decision was made, an expert said.

In a presentation, “Decision Making: What Makes a Decision Good,” held by the SPE Human Factors Technical Section, Margaret Crichton discussed the factors that affect individual and group decision-making strategies. She is an industrial psychologist and managing director at People Factor Consultants.

Effective decision making begins with the establishment of situational awareness, which Crichton characterized as a three-step process. The first step of this process is the collection of information from the surrounding environment. She said it is important for decision makers to obtain as much information as they can handle and to follow through with the second step in the process, which is determining which actions must be taken to interpret that information properly.

“We have to understand what’s going on around us,” Crichton said. “It’s what we hear. It’s what we see. In many cases, especially on a drilling rig or a production rig, it might even be what we smell. It’s information that we see in reports or in emails. It’s information that we hear as we’re given verbal information from the people around us.”

The final step of the process is anticipating possible future scenarios based on the information provided and preparing for contingencies. Crichton said individuals and organizations should not constrain themselves to only one solution. They must be prepared to constantly review their interpretation of the information and adjust their predictions if they receive new information.

“We are preparing ourselves for different avenues that a situation might take, so that even when we make our decision, we are prepared to be able to go back and modify that decision if we see that the situation has changed slightly. It’s only after we have gathered as accurate an understanding of the situation as possible that we should then move on to actually making a decision,” she said.

Crichton presented four decision-making strategies:

  • Intuitive. The decisions contain one known, unquestionable solution. Intuitive decisions are often “gut feelings” so ingrained in an individual’s consciousness that he or she may not be aware that a decision is being made. For example, a driver stopping at a red light at a traffic signal.
  • Rule-based. Decisions are made after the application of a standard procedure. The procedure can either be prescribed by a superior in an organization or developed through time and experience. These decisions are not quite as second nature as intuitive decisions because they require the consultation of an outside source.
  • Choice. The decisions hold several possible solutions. They take more effort because the decision maker has to devise the possible solutions and compare them.
  • Creative. Decisions are borne of unusual circumstances that the decision maker has no experience in handling. They require significant effort because the decision maker must think of a unique solution to a new problem.

The institutional knowledge needed to make a rule-based or intuitive decision generally derives from experience, Crichton said. Because these decisions take place in familiar situations, they require a lighter cognitive output and have a lower stress effect; it takes less effort for a person to make a decision that he has made several times in the past.

Conversely, creative and choice-based decisions are less affected by experience because they are usually made in situations that an individual has little experience in handling. The lack of experience leads to increased cognitive workload and higher stress levels.

Rule-based and intuitive decisions are the most common types of decisions made. Crichton said they account for 80% to 85% of all decisions made in a given situation. Because creative and choice-based decisions require the most effort, they are often the types of decisions people remember making.

“Decision makers can actually use each of these decision-making strategies,” Crichton said. “It all depends on the situation that you find yourself in, and we have to have the ability to modify our decision-making process to make best use of the decision-making strategy that is relevant to the situation you are in.”

A decision-making process by a group is subject to challenges such as poor communication and members who feel inhibited in speaking their mind. Crichton said an effective process reduces the effects of cognitive biases on decisions. It also accounts for different agendas, motives, perceptions, and opinions among the members of a team and will often combine more than one perspective of information source.

Additionally, organizations must develop systems for reviewing their decision-making procedures and protocols.

View the webinar here.

11 Jun 2015

Monitoring System Makes Confined Spaces Safer

Confined spaces are areas that have limited means for entry or exit and are not designed for continuous occupancy. Confined spaces include pipelines, tanks, vessels, silos, storage bins, vaults, pits, manholes, tunnels, and ductwork. A number of workers are injured or killed each year while working in confined spaces, and an estimated 60% of the fatalities reported were would-be rescuers.

Ensuring safety within confined spaces is one of the more challenging aspects of maintenance projects. This considerable level of danger calls for extra safety measures, such as constant monitoring and record keeping of confined-space work by an attendant positioned at the opening. However, the duties of the attendant are restricted to the outside of the vessel. So how are activities conducted within the confined space actively monitored?

The answer lies in leveraging technology. United Safety recently launched the TeQ Shield, a confined-space monitoring solution, at the Global Petroleum Show in Calgary on 9 June 2015.

From the TeQ Shield command center, the safety operator has continuous awareness of all confined-space work.

From the TeQ Shield command center, the safety operator has continuous awareness of all confined-space work.

One of the key benefits of the TeQ Shield is the ability to monitor the inside of a confined space remotely. From the command center, the safety operator has continuous awareness of all confined-space work. He analyzes visual input of work being performed and the surroundings, monitors gas levels, controls worker access information, and can communicate with personnel outside and inside the vessels. In the event of an emergency, he is able to convey valuable information to the rescue team before its arrival.

“With the TeQ Shield, the safety operator can rely on a solution that combines gas detection, video surveillance, two-way communication, access control, and a command center to effectively monitor confined spaces, improving safety without delaying projects or increasing costs,” said Sher Alizander, technical service manager for United Safety.

The TeQ Shield has a host of features. Cameras with day and night vision installed outside and inside vessels allow for clear visibility in a wide array of environmental conditions. Video is recorded along with gas-detection logs. The data stored can be used in training or investigations.

Two-way communication—outside and inside of the confined space—keeps personnel in constant contact with the command center. It can be used to answer questions of access control, to correct safety practices remotely, or to speak with personnel during emergencies.

The TeQ Shield is also equipped with continuous real-time gas detection. If a toxic atmosphere is detected, audible and visual alarms ensure proper evacuation. Additionally, an access-control feature uses site badges to allow only authorized individuals to enter a confined space. This enables an accurate count of who is present in the space.

The TeQ service line can be extended to cover a wide range of applications, including body cameras, monitoring of employee wellbeing, and facility-access control. The possibilities and applications will only grow as the technology evolves.

“By combining technology with safety expertise, we redefine confined-space work safety while improving the overall productivity of the event,” said Tim Wallace, executive vice president–western hemisphere for United Safety.

Read more about TeQ Shield here.

11 Jun 2015

Corporate Social Responsibility Vital to Industry Operations

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs are now a critical part of oil and gas project development. As companies continue to work in more densely populated communities, they have gotten better at working with local authorities to protect the interests of the people their operations affect. However, plenty of work remains to be done to improve CSR efforts, a group of experts said.

Houston, TX - OTC 2015 - Panel speakers during the Corporate Social Responsibility: Technical Sessions at the Offshore Technology Conference here today, Thursday May 7, 2015. The OTC hosts the meeting at the NRG Park which has over 90,000 attendees from around the world to see the latest technology in the energy industry. Photo by © OTC/Nathan Weber 2015 Contact Info: todd@corporateeventimages.com Keywords: 15OTC_Technical Sessions

Panelists discuss corporate social responsibility at the Offshore Technology Conference on 7 May 2015.

In a panel discussion held at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, representatives from five national and multinational companies discussed the role CSR programs will play in the industry moving forward.

Mary-Grace Anderson said that, as the global demand for energy increases, CSR will become even more essential to industry operations. She is the vice president of safety, environment, and social performance at Shell.

Anderson said operators need to exploit a variety of energy sources to meet the rising global demand, and this need will force them to work more frequently in urban environments. Focusing on CSR will make it easier for operators to mitigate the possibility of unexpected issues happening within these environments, and early engagement with local communities will help build trust and allow operators to better share in the benefits of a project.

“In developing projects and in operating our facilities, we need to balance short- and long-term interests,” Anderson said. “Integrating societal and environmental considerations with our technical, operational, and commercial considerations into our project management processes and our business decisions from the earliest stages of our projects … is where we can make the most difference.”

Anderson spoke about the need for further collaboration between operating companies, local communities, and governments, focusing in particular on Shell’s global investment programs. Shell spent approximately USD 160 million on voluntary social investment in 2014, and a big part of its work was in the development of science, technology, engineering, and mathematical programs for students, parents, and educators. It also has spent more than USD 3 billion on goods and services from minority- and female-owned businesses in the last 3 years.

“Our intention is to … help each project become sustainable in the long term through collaborative efforts with communities and partners, and this can involve corporations, academia, and regulators. We find the larger the collaboration we can have, typically the better solutions we get,” Anderson said.

Natalie Stirling-Sanders, a global manager of local content, supplier diversity, and sustainable procurement at ExxonMobil, discussed her company’s plan for sharing the benefits of local content with the local community.

Stirling-Sanders said two of the key elements of developing a CSR program were understanding the needs of the local community and assessing those needs at an early stage. By finding out what the community wants early on in a project, the company can then customize its front-end definition to fit those wants. It is also crucial to maintain a regular flow of information with people in the community and maximize the existing resources.

A well-executed CSR program is not the same as a philanthropic effort, Stirling-Sanders said.

“In a lot of situations, the industry finds itself with communities that want more than philanthropy,” she said. “They want jobs, contacts, better infrastructure, and better education. When CSR is done well, there can be a symbiotic relationship between businesses and community.”

Ana Paula Grether presented the outline of Petrobras’ CSR policy. Grether, an advisor in social responsibility guidance and practices with the company, said it has launched social investment initiatives in select areas of operation that focus primarily on job protection, community relations, and environmental conservation.

Grether said that, through these initiatives, the company created more than 20,000 jobs in the last 8 years and conserved more than 935,000 hectares of wildlife habitat in Brazil, numbers that highlight its goal to improve the communities in which it works.

“For us, social responsibility is a mechanism for integrating management of Petrobras business and activities in its relations with our communities,” Grether said.

Geneviève Mouillerat, vice president of global projects and construction at Total, spoke mostly about the work her company has done to support local content on the CLOV project offshore Angola. Mouillerat, who directed the project, said CSR efforts centered on creating shared value for both the country and the company, in part by establishing employee pride in the work being produced.

Training programs are at the heart of Total’s efforts to build value. Mouillerat said the company trained Angolan employees for 2 years before hiring them to work on its floating production, storage, and offloading unit. The company also hired Angolans to work in its fabrication yards at an early stage in the project.

“In-country value is evolving to include the individuals working in the country,” Mouillerat said. “Personally, I’m proud to be part of this challenge and part of this project where we had so many Angolans trained and working on the facilities.”

Paulino Jeronimo, an executive administrator at Sonangol, said that, despite these improvements, there is still plenty of work needed to make local content in Angola more economically viable for the country.

“In terms of quality, we are almost there, but we’re still missing one important point, and that is the pricing. We want to continue working with operators to help become more competitive,” he said.

The panelists each talked about the importance of establishing a clear strategic emphasis during the late stages of a project that accounts for the needs of the local community. Stirling-Sanders said ExxonMobil had developed a system to address the social issues that arise in the shift to the production stage. However, she said communities must be prepared for the economic realities that come with post-project stage work, as the shift to production means the loss of construction jobs typically filled by local content.

“There is a lot of short-term work and lots of construction activity in [the project phase], and, especially for the community, it’s a huge adjustment when you move into production. I think one of the keys is helping all the stakeholders understand that that’s what it looks like from the very beginning and assure that the expectations are understood,” Stirling-Sanders said.

Stephen Whitfield is a Staff Writer for Oil and Gas Facilities.

8 Jun 2015

SPE Offers Free HSE Papers

In an effort to better serve members of the oil and gas industry’s growing health, safety, security, environment, and social responsibility (HSSE-SR) discipline, SPE is offering free technical papers for download. The papers are accessible through SPE’s HSSE-SR discipline page, and a new paper will be available every 2 weeks.

Although registration is required to download the papers, no fee is charged and visitors do not need to be members of SPE.

Of the approximately 4,000 papers submitted to SPE for presentation at various conferences and meetings in 2014, approximately 370 of them concern subjects within the HSSE-SR discipline.

Trey Shaffer, SPE’s HSSE-SR technical director, said, “The HSSE-SR community has invested a tremendous amount of time and energy to develop the technical papers that we present at conferences. We hope that sharing a few key technical papers from the OnePetro archive on the HSSE-SR technical discipline page will encourage both the authors and our technical community to think of SPE as a primary resource for technical HSSE-SR information related to the upstream oil and gas industry.”

Each year, eight of the most important HSSE-SR papers submitted that year are summarized for publication in JPT. The papers to be summarized are selected by JPT’s editorial committee. JPT editorial committee member Emmanuel Garland, senior environmental adviser with Total, selects the papers on behalf of the HSSE-SR discipline.

Garland noted that the large offering of papers in the discipline means that more than eight deserve the attention of additional publication. Initially, papers he identified as worthy of greater attention will be presented on the discipline page. Shaffer added, “In the future, we also plan to allow members to nominate excellent papers for download to ensure that we enable other papers to be considered.”

Find the free paper on SPE’s HSSE-SR discipline page here.

13 May 2015

Meet SPE’s Technical Director for HSSE-SR

Trey Shaffer, SPE’s current Technical Director for the health, safety, security, environment, and social responsibility (HSSE-SR) discipline, is a senior partner for Environmental Resources Management, based in Houston. In 2010, he received the SPE North America Region Award for Distinguished Contribution to Petroleum Engineering in the Area of Health, Safety, Security, Environment, and Social Responsibility.


Shaffer

Oil and gas companies are making long-term investments around the world in costly, technically complicated projects where unanticipated community concerns can significantly reduce the return on investment. One of my goals as HSSE-SR Technical Director is to convince technical decision makers with a deep understanding of the project they are working on that success can depend on something outside the realm of the design specifications and engineering—public acceptability.

Many project delays are the result of nontechnical issues. For a variety of reasons, there is not always a straightforward path to address these issues early in the project life cycle. Some ideas to better prepare the industry include: (1) dealing with sustainability issues beyond regulatory requirements; (2) recognizing issues outside the workplace or outside the normal bounds of exploration, development production, which will require attention; and (3) understanding that what works changes from place to place.

During my tenure as the HSSE-SR Technical Director, I will focus on the following four objectives:

  • Strengthen the HSSE-SR profile and content across the SPE portfolio of Technical Programs and Events (especially flagship events)
  • Grow SPE HSSE-SR membership and further establish SPE as the preferred learning and networking destination for HSE professionals in the oil and gas industry
  • Realize the SPE mission through active HSSE-SR volunteers in emerging and key growth geographies
  • Collaborate and engage with other sectors, organizations, and sister societies

Based on a 20 February 2015 census of SPE members, 5,022 members consider HSSE-SR a primary or secondary discipline. As HSSE-SR issues become increasingly important to our industry, we have a significant potential to grow our discipline over the coming years.

After conducting a market study during my few months as the HSSE-SR Technical Director, I saw that we have a significant growth opportunity:

  • More than 23,000 potential new members across key SPE geographies.
  • Nearly 6X growth potential for HSSE-SR beyond February 2015 SPE census, including more than 20,000 potential HSSE-SR members in 13 key geographies.
  • Significant HSSE-SR opportunities with the greatest numeric growth potential in USA, Canada, UK, Australia and Malaysia.
  • The Asia Pacific region including China, Indonesia, Australia, and Malaysia represents the largest regional growth opportunity outside of North America, with as many as 3,743 potential members.
  • The Top 3 SPE regions for HSSE-SR members include US Gulf Coast, North Sea, and Middle East.
  • As an emerging market, Mexico represents significant growth potential.

SPE is doing significant good work for our members and our industry. I look forward to ensuring that the HSSE-SR technical discipline does our part to support the mission of SPE around the world.

Biographical information

I am a senior partner for Environmental Resources Management (ERM), based in Houston. I perform a leadership role in helping ERM’s multinational clients solve a broad range of sustainability, environmental, and safety challenges. Before joining ERM in 2003, I was a director for Boots & Coots International Well Control, where I led the Downstream Services Division. I have held senior positions in both operations and commercial development. I support clients with a variety of challenges, including sustainability, strategy, management systems, impact assessment, and permitting for upstream capital projects, as well as broad environmental, safety, and regulatory compliance throughout the world.

In 2010, I received the SPE North America Region Award for Distinguished Contribution to Petroleum Engineering in the Area of Health, Safety, Security, Environment, and Social Responsibility. I joined the SPE Gulf Coast Section Board of Directors in 2013 and also serve as the Gulf Coast Section HSSE-SR Study Group Chairman. In addition, I serve on the board of directors of Volunteer Houston. I hold a bachelor of environmental design degree from Texas A&M University.

I look forward to serving as your 2015–18 SPE Technical Director. Thank you!

Visit SPE’s HSSE-SR discipline page here.

7 May 2015

Five-Phase Model Aims To Maintain Psychological Well-Being While Away From Home

Oil and gas industry workers are often tasked with spending extended durations away from home while working onsite. And these absences can have a significant effect on the workers’ psychological well-being. A paper presented at the 2015 SPE Health, Safety, Security, and Environmental Conference—Americas proposed a five-phase model for managing the psychological stress of extended stays away from home.

Paper SPE 173559, by Simon Seaton and Thomas Jelley of Sodexo, breaks the experience of being away into five phases: predeparture planning, being away, preparing to return, returning, and being back. The authors of the paper had three environments in mind when considering time away from home—the military, universities, and the oil and gas industry.

“We understand, quite well I think, somebody’s physical well-being. We’d like to think of psychological well-being in the same way,” Seaton said. “What we’re trying to do is make the psychological well-being a lot more stable, a lot more managed, a lot more predictable, and try and avoid bad days and bad outcomes … and, therefore, have a workforce that is much more engaged, motivated, and clearly focused on their job at hand, which is, at times, a very difficult and challenging job.”

Predeparture Planning
Modern communication technology makes keeping in touch while away easier, but there are also potential drawbacks. Expecting that technology will mitigate separation, travelers may fail to

  • Discuss expectations
  • Say goodbye properly and acknowledge that the coming separation is real
  • Set up support networks
  • Agree on a main point of contact so the person away is not under pressure to allocate potentially little free time or communication resources to a large number of people for similar updates

The first three points can apply as easily to a parent away on a short business trip as to someone away for much longer. The last point applies especially to individuals in more difficult, longer-term absence, such as military personnel on deployment.

Being Away
While away, technology offers only an artificial sense of connectedness. Seeing someone on a screen is not the same as being together. Daily experiences at different ends of a phone or video call may be so different that real-time connection is frustrating and counterproductive.

Also, sometimes less communication is better. News of something at home that an individual cannot manage remotely can immediately and gravely affect psychological well-being. The result can be distraction, disengagement, an inability to progress, and a threat to the performance of the organization.

Preparing To Return
The front-of-mind excitement associated with preparing to return home can mask the fact that it can have an adverse effect on psychological well-being. An individual or their perceptions may not be the same as when they left home. Family and friends may also have changed—even in a short period. Going home to continue as before may not be possible, and acknowledging this in advance is a way of managing expectations and the risk of disappointment.

Returning
A period of decompression or a staged return can facilitate a soft landing (e.g., soldiers returning home from a conflict zone via a peaceful base where they can wash, relax, and enjoy leisure time as a way of unwinding in a more normal environment before going home).

Being Back
Getting home can involve little more than a flight, but it can take much longer to feel back at home psychologically. To mitigate this potential disconnection between being back and feeling back, time for adjustment is important. After a longer period away, a welcome home celebration can have a better effect on psychological well-being if it takes place after the traveler has had time to feel back home again.

Future Research
The next step for the researchers is to analyze people in the three target environments—military, universities, and the oil and gas industry. The analyses will begin with researchers asking people how they assess their own psychological well-being and then asking them what they do to maintain that well-being while away from home.

“So, rather than present the model to them and ask them if they do it, we’re going to ask, ‘What are the things you do?’ We can then take those practices and inputs and apply them back to the model and refine it a little bit more,” Seaton said. That research is expected to be conducted by King’s College London and Cardiff University.

The full paper can be downloaded from the OnePetro online library here.

Read more about Sodexo here.

7 May 2015

Beyond the Headlines: Are Well Construction Practices Safe for the Environment?

Editor’s note: Professionals in the oil and gas industry often receive questions about how industry operations affect public health, the environment, and the communities in which they operate. Of particular concern today is the impact of hydraulic fracturing on the environment. In this new column, JPT is inviting energy experts to put those questions and concerns about industry operations into perspective. Additional information about the oil and gas industry, how it affects society, and how to explain industry operations and practices to the general public is available on SPE’s Energy4me website at www.­energy4me.org.

There are headlines every day that discuss the ethics and safety behind oil and gas operations, particularly hydraulic fracturing. According to the media, hydraulic fracturing can cause earthquakes, contaminated water, and even deformity in animals (if you believe the movie Promise Land). The truth behind the headlines is that hydraulic fracturing is a safe way to get natural gas out of the ground. What makes it a safe practice is solid well construction.

The evolution of oil and gas well construction has passed through many frontiers with each new foray into the next “unconventional” hydrocarbon resource generating the needed technology to keep pace with the immediate needs. In light of more than 4 million wells drilled in North America over the past 194 years, it is somewhat surprising that the industry has been successful so many times, and what we have done with lessons learned from the relatively few failures.

Wells are designed from the bottom to the top and from the inside outward, but they are drilled and constructed in exactly the opposite manner—often by practitioners with metrics different from the initial design principles. The fundamental objective that must shape every action along the way is that the final product of well construction must be a highly durable pressure vessel, albeit one that is composed of hundreds of threaded connections with a variety of seals and with a long coat of cement. Few other engineering disciplines operate in this highly cloaked area, in which the final engineering product, the downhole section of the well, cannot be conventionally seen, heard, or touched and produces a product that no one really wants to smell or taste.

The birth of the US gas industry was ushered in by William Hart’s shale gas well in Fredonia, New York, in 1821. He encountered flowing gas at 28 ft and, consistent with the technology of the time, cased it with wood and flowed shale gas through wood and early steel pipes to light the streets and buildings previously illuminated with lamps filled with whale oil.

Both Hart and Edwin Drake, with his 1859-era oil well, made use of one of the earliest hydrocarbon prospecting tools by locating their wells in areas of natural gas and oil surface seepage. Both wells hit natural flows of hydrocarbons in the same depth range as freshwater wells; it is a small wonder that fresh water, gas, and oil cohabitate the same strata today. Present on every continent, in every ocean, and above virtually every oil and gas producing area, natural seeps of oil and gas are indications of overfilling of some conventional reservoirs or natural geologic structure interruptions such as faults and natural fractures. The appearance of oil and gas seeps is evidence of oil generation potential below.

The early oil industry was undeniably a highly polluted place in time. Although well construction moved forward to steel casing, artificial lift pumps, and the first steel pipeline for oil transport in 1879, the first use of cement to seal and reinforce a well’s steel pipe was not seen until 1903. This fledgling cementing technology took a significant jump in 1915 with Almond Perkins’ two plug cement system, which Earl P. Halliburton purchased and pushed into worldwide use. Although the first widespread use of cement was undoubtedly a significant pollution control step, it is difficult to say whether that accomplishment was its main intent.

As other forms of technology moved forward, related advances quickly followed. Rotary drilling made possible dynamic pressure control feasible and blowout preventer technology gave rise to kick control; a technology combination that gradually replaced the gushers that came after oil strikes by cable tool drilling. The advances in cementing, drilling muds, pumps, corrosion control, and various stimulation mechanisms in the 1920s to 1940s ensured that the protection of hydrocarbon resources and the environment were not mutually exclusive. Significant regulation and enforcement on all phases of well construction in the oil and gas industry varied for years in different regions of the country, particularly in the early boom areas drilled in 1859 to the 1890s.

The first unified approach to effective resource conservation rules and practical enforcement came in 1935 with the establishment of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, the oldest and largest interstate compact in the US that now represents governors of 30 member and eight associated states. The goal of the group is not only to conserve resources, but also to protect the public. Their survey work on idle and orphaned wells has been the driver for most of the well construction and abandonment rules that states have adapted to fit the needs of local geology.

Fig. 1—Pollution potential changes with time—US O&G Industry.

Fig. 1—Pollution potential changes with time—US O&G Industry.

The advances and some of the problems that drove the technology development are shown in Fig. 1.

The fact that disastrous failures have driven the development and evolution of every field of technology, from medicine to space trips, should not be forgotten, although much of the public seems blissfully unaware of the trial and error journey that all technical disciples have taken.

7 May 2015

HSE Conference Finds New Ways To Bring Experts Together

Helge Hove Haldorsen set the tone for SPE’s 2015 HSE conference in March at the meeting’s first keynote luncheon.

SPE President Helge Hove Haldorsen, center, talked with students from the University of Oklahoma after his keynote address at the 2015 SPE E&P Health, Safety, Security, and Environmental Conference—Americas.

SPE President Helge Hove Haldorsen, center, talked with students from the University of Oklahoma after his keynote address at the 2015 SPE E&P Health, Safety, Security, and Environmental Conference—Americas.

“I have an intense personal commitment to making E&P safe and sustainable,” the 2015 SPE president said.

Nearly 350 people gathered at the Omni Interlocken Resort outside of Denver for the 2015 SPE E&P Health, Safety, Security, and Environmental Conference—Americas. The conference carried the theme “Striving for HSE Excellence—It Takes All of Us.”

In his speech, Haldorsen pointed out that safety is a group effort. “We don’t compete on safety. We collaborate,” he said. “There’s lots of challenges. There are no easy buttons. But, I think, when we come together and talk about our various innovations and what we can do, sharing and collaborating … we’re going to come up with great things that take us to 2.0.”

After summing up the petroleum industry from exploration to selling the product to refineries, Haldorsen said, “E&P 2.0 means we do this smarter, faster, cheaper, more sustainable. This is the challenge for E&P. This is what we have to do.”

The conference, the 12th of its kind for SPE and the first to be held outside of Texas, celebrated several firsts and included new levels of engagement. It ended on 18 March with an interactive closing session. Before each plenary session and the closing session, attendees used remote voting devices to respond to questions about the content of the sessions. The responses drove the discussion at the closing session.

After determining the four most popular subjects—collaboration on safety throughout the industry, whether the price of oil will affect how HSE is considered, finding a middle ground for discussions, and sharing lessons learned—attendees gathered at tables dedicated to each subject. Chosen table leaders then presented the results of the discussions.

2015 SPE President Helge Hove Haldorsen addresses attendees at the first keynote luncheon of the 2015 SPE E&P Health, Safety, Security, and Environmental Conference—Americas.

2015 SPE President Helge Hove Haldorsen addresses attendees at the first keynote luncheon of the 2015 SPE E&P Health, Safety, Security, and Environmental Conference—Americas.

The closing session was moderated by Jack Hinton from Baker Hughes. “As I walked around, listening to the different tables, the intensity and the conviction, the importance, that I was hearing was absolutely incredible,” he said.

The interactive closing session was “in keeping with our belief that we had as a program committee,” Hinton said.

“We wanted to change the dynamic about the typical conference, where people just come and you sit and you listen.”

The conference also changed the typical conference dynamic by holding a Student Challenge competition, modeled after the PetroBowl held at SPE’s Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, and a movie night (see page 142, SPE News).

The conference was punctuated with three plenary sessions, one for each day.

The first plenary session focused on the industry’s environmental footprint and consisted of three speakers: Jim Sewell with Shell E&P, Joseph Ryan with the University of Colorado Boulder, and Jon Goldstein with the Environmental Defense Fund.

A major point of discussion at the session was the effect of methane on the environment and the industry’s role in methane emissions.

Ryan showed a map that overlaid locations of high methane emissions with locations of coal formations. “A lot of the methane that has shown up in water wells … is really associated with these relatively shallow coal formations.”

Goldstein also addressed the problem of methane, noting that methane has a greater greenhouse-gas effect than carbon dioxide in the early years after release.

“You can think of methane as the other white meat. Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas you hear about, but methane is No. 2 in many ways. … It’s a far more potent greenhouse gas pound for pound in the early years. Methane is more than 80 times more potent in the first 20 years.”

The second plenary session focused on safety and the goal of making it personal. The speakers were Warren Hubler with Helmerich and Payne International Drilling, Cheryl Mackenzie with the US Chemical Safety Board, and Mike West with BP America.

Hubler shined light on the personal aspect of safety with an emotional story of a boy who lost his father to an oil rig accident. After the funeral, the boy approached Hubler and asked why his father died. “How do we answer that question to a little boy, an 8-year-old boy, who has just lost his coach, his mentor, his tutor, his hero in life? Ladies and gentlemen, there is no adequate answer to that question, and there never will be. That needs to be a source of motivation for every one of us in this room.”

The final plenary session concerned unconventional resources. Four speakers—Dave Neslin with Davis Graham and Stubbs, Michael Freeman with Earthjustice, Patty Limerick from the University of Colorado Boulder, and Perry Pearce with ConocoPhillips—each offered their perspectives. The perspectives were those of a regulator, a conservation group, a shuttle diplomat, and an operator, respectively. The speakers all touched on the public’s perception of the work done by the industry.

“We should be educating people about energy,” Freeman said. “Where does our energy come from? What are the choices? What are the issues? I think we would all agree it would only be a good thing if people knew more about those subjects.”

Limerick summed up the essence of the discussion by reciting, of course, a limerick poem she wrote:

“Knowledge is tragically lacking
On the complicated process of fracking.
Convinced they are right,
People rush in to fight.
And no agency regulates yakking.”

The SPE E&P Health, Safety, Security, and Environmental Conference—Americas is held every 2 years. The 2015 conference was held 16–18 March. The next one will be in 2017.

5 May 2015

Call for Papers Goes Out for International HSE Conference

Papers are being accepted for the 2016 SPE International Conference and Exhibition on Health, Safety, Security, Environment, and Social Responsibility, which will be 11–13 April in Stavanger, Norway. The theme of the conference is “Sustaining Our Future Through Innovation and Collaboration.”

StavangerStavangerThe deadline for submitting an abstract is 29 June.

The conference is the oil and gas industry’s premier global event highlighting best practices and challenges. In 2016, this biennial conference will celebrate 25 years of bringing together experts from all over the world to share new ideas, process improvements, technological advancements, and innovative applications to enhance HSE performance. It also provides a neutral forum where a wide range of perspectives and concerns from a variety of stakeholders can be explored. Since its inception in the Netherlands in 1991, this conference has been held in 11 countries, a testimony to its global scope and application.

This year’s conference will focus on the need for collaboration and—in light of the current global climate—the imperative to maximize HSE programs and help achieve the needs of shareholders and stakeholders alike.

More than 1,200 professionals are expected to attend the 2016 event. Alongside the conference, an exhibition will showcase the latest technologies, products, and industry services from around the world.

Papers are sought in the following categories:

  • Health in Communities and the Working Environment
  • Occupational and Process Safety
  • Sustainability
  • HSE Management
  • Environment
  • Social Responsibility
  • Conference Topics

Authors are encouraged to develop papers featuring multidiscliplinary approaches that highlight HSE benefits such as innovation, collaboration, and value creation. Additionally, authors may consider proposing a paper that features these HSE benefits within specific elements of the oil and gas sector value chain.

The conference also features a special drilling track, so authors are asked to indicate if their abstracts relate specifically to drilling.

Read more about the conference here.

Submit an abstract here.

29 Apr 2015

UK Oil and Gas Industry Safety Awards Winners Announced

The fifth UK Oil and Gas Industry Safety Awards celebrated people and companies striving to ensure North Sea oil and gas operations are as safe as they can be at a ceremony on 29 April in Aberdeen.

The awards, jointly organized by Oil and Gas UK and Step Change in Safety, consisted of six categories: Safety Leadership, Safety Representative of the Year, Innovation in Safety, Workforce Engagement, Occupational Health and Hygiene, and Sharing and Learning.

Robert Paterson, health and safety director at Oil and Gas UK, said, “We were really impressed with the level and standard of entries to our awards. The innovative approaches being taken by winners to ensure high standards of safety, as well as the measures under way to further raise awareness to the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, really are to be applauded.”

Oil and Gas UK is a representative organization for the UK offshore oil and gas industry. Its more than 500 members are companies licensed by the government to explore for and produce oil and gas in UK waters and those in the industry’s supply chain. Step Change in Safety, a not-for-profit organization that seeks to make the UK the safest oil province in the world, has 137 members representing operators, contractors, trade unions, regulators, and the onshore and offshore workforce.

The winners of the 2015 awards are

Safety Leadership—Vic Retalic, HSE and security manager, Premier Oil

Judges recognized Retalic’s creative approach to communicating health and safety, which included drawing on the expertise of other industries to look at concerns from a different perspective and using a cartoonist to capture meeting minutes as a 12-ft-long picture.

Safety Representative of the Year—Karen McCombie, offshore support planner and helicopter administrative assistant, Sodexo

The judges said McCombie has worked tirelessly to promote safety awareness on the Claymore platform, to increase participation at quarterly meetings, and to encourage Sodexo management to put safety at the top of the boardroom agenda.

Innovation in Safety—BG Group and Amec Foster Wheeler

BG Group and Amec Foster Wheeler have jointly delivered an industry first by developing a new technique for removing caissons, the pillars underpinning many North Sea platforms. The process holds promise for the future; BG Group plans to use this technology for the removal of similar caissons on other North Sea assets.

Workforce Engagement—The Bruce Platform Team, BP

BP’s Bruce Offshore Platform Team transformed its safety performance through an ambitious improvement program involving a new approach to communication and a focus on a new, consistent process.

Occupational Health and Hygiene—Lesley Officer, human resources manager, Rowan Drilling UK

Officer was involved in Rowan Drilling UK’s Wellness program to encourage a healthy body mass index and an active lifestyle. The total weight of participants has fallen consistently since, and Rowan’s offshore fleet became the first in the UK sector to be presented with NHS Scotland’s Healthy Living Award.

Sharing and Learning—Neil Clark, chief executive officer, IHF

Human factors are thought to account for 80% of all accidents offshore, and Clark’s commitment to raising awareness of them as a pivotal ingredient toward changing safety culture on and offshore impressed the judges. Clark has played a key role in Step Change in Safety’s steering group on competence and human factors.

24 Apr 2015

Accounting for HSSE in an Enterprise Resource Planning System

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software systems help organizations manage data from product planning to shipping. By automating primary business-related processes, the systems allow companies to define their business models and plan workloads.

However, most companies do not include processes related to health, safety, security, and environmental (HSSE) concerns within the scope of their ERP systems, and failing to account for HSSE may be a costly mistake, an expert said.

Jeff Morgheim, a former climate change director at BP, said the early inclusion of HSSE practices in ERP systems is a good business practice because it sets a societal expectation that leads to improved decision making.

He spoke at a webinar, “What About HSSE? Why Early Inclusion of HSSE Into Enterprise Resource Planning Efforts Makes Sense,” held by the SPE Gulf Coast Section’s Health, Safety, and Environment study group. Morgheim, who was part of BP’s executive team in the aftermath of the Macondo incident in 2010, is the founder of Edge Consulting.

HSSE plays an important part in the operational excellence of an organization, Morgheim said. However, financial issues may make it difficult for a company to execute primary HSSE functions.

“When an enterprise decides that it needs to implement something that allows all this information to flow together, the usual motivator has to do with getting a better handle on their accounting systems,” Morgheim said. “So, what you’ll find is that the executive sponsor within an enterprise will tend to be someone from within the finance function. That has an impact on the scope (of ERP implementation).”

The following factors drive the inclusion of strong HSSE policies in an ERP system:

  • Seizing the opportunity for near-term process improvements
  • Avoiding rework
  • Fostering a collaboration between functions
  • Leveraging the risk reduction potential of an ERP system
  • Enhancing workforce sustainability
  • Signaling the role of HSSE to the organization

Morgheim said near-term process improvements provide organizations with a framework for identifying the processes for simplification or elimination, and removing duplicity in data collection and reporting. An organization’s ability to use its HSSE policy in the investigative process in a consistent way with the rest of the ERP system is a powerful opportunity.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for your function to be able to sit down and look at how exactly our processes work,” he said. “Where do we get information from? Who do we get information to? How do we validate that information? What do we do with that information?”

Avoiding rework on ERP systems is critical to keeping their cost down. Morgheim said incorporating good HSSE practices into a plan early will always cost less in the long run than retrofitting a plan to incorporate those practices after an incident.

“As anyone who has done house remodeling knows, there is a lot less pain and suffering and mental anguish involved in designing all the rooms ahead of time rather than building two separate parts of the house and figuring out how you’re going to integrate them together,” he said.

In addition, fostering collaboration between functions (operations, drilling, accounting, human resources, and the supply chain) helps reduce workload and errors within an organization.

Leveraging an ERP’s risk reduction potential helps improve compliance, risk management, and operational assurance, which leads to long-term benefits in accounting and finance.

Enhancing the HSSE workforce’s sustainability helps lower turnover costs and risks. It expands the pool of potential HSSE employees and lowers the costs to bring in new people. By emphasizing the importance of the role of HSSE, an organization is making it part of the creation of a culture of operational excellence. Morgheim said companies should reinforce the belief that good HSSE practices lead to good business practices.

View the webinar here.