Exclusive Content
29 Sep 2016

StatesFirst Releases Induced Seismicity Primer

On 28 September, the StatesFirst Induced Seismicity Working Group (ISWG) released a primer entitled “Potential Injection-Induced Seismicity Associated with Oil and Gas Development: A Primer on Technical and Regulatory Considerations Informing Risk Management and Mitigation.” The report provides guidance in mitigating seismic risks associated with wastewater disposal wells, not hydraulic fracturing.

The primer is intended to be informational and provides a valuable overview of the current state of research and technical understanding of induced seismicity related to Class II disposal wells. The report was peer reviewed and was developed by ISWG members with input from subject-matter experts from academia, industry, federal agencies, and environmental organizations. Scientists at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) contributed to writing sections of the report, and scientists at NETL and the Office of Fossil Energy reviewed the report before its release.

StatesFirst is an initiative of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and the Ground Water Protection Council.

Read the primer here (PDF).

27 Sep 2016

ATCE: Addressing Human Factors Can Make Megaprojects Work

Megaprojects have become a mainstay of the modern oil and gas landscape, with more than 350 of these billion-dollar-plus facilities dotting the globe—each one designed to take advantage of economies of scale.

And, with so much at stake, both in terms of profitability and reputation, one might think that megaprojects would benefit from the industry’s time-tested management practices.

“This has proven not to be the case,” said Fuad Al-Azman, the general manager of area projects at Saudi Aramco, adding that studies show almost 65% of megaprojects fail to meet the performance goals established when the financial go-ahead was given.

Fuad Al-Azman, general manger of area projects at Saudi Aramco, said his company has adopted new management practices to ensure that its latest megaproject does not fail to deliver.

Fuad Al-Azman, general manger of area projects at Saudi Aramco, said his company has adopted new management practices to ensure that its latest megaproject does not fail to deliver.

Fuad Al-Azman, the general manger of area projects at Saudi Aramco, said his company has adopted new management practices to ensure that its latest megaproject does not fail to deliver. Al-Azman spoke about the challenges facing megaprojects during a panel session on 27 September at the SPE Annual Technology Conference and Exhibition in Dubai. He said about three-quarters of megaprojects suffer from schedule overruns, two-thirds were over budget, and actual costs are often 50% higher than the original estimates.

“Such is the state of our industry today; if a megaproject comes in at less than 25% over budget and 1 year behind schedule, it is considered a success,” remarked Al-Azman.

So what is the problem with completing megaprojects on time and on budget? The simple answer is people. This means employees, corporate management, and their governments share the vast majority of the blame—not the technology, the geology, or the environment.

Operators can avoid costly pitfalls if they focus on addressing the human-related problems that include overdesigning facility systems and introducing major changes midway through.

Al-Azman explained how his company’s attention to these issues pushed it to adopt new management strategies for the development of its latest megaproject—the Jazan Complex.

An illustration of the massive Jazan Complex under construction by Saudi Aramco. Credit: JazanGas.

An illustration of the massive Jazan Complex under construction by Saudi Aramco. Credit: JazanGas.

Still under construction, the Jazan Complex will be a 400,000 B/D refinery that features a liquefied gasification plant and a 3,900-MW power generation facility to support other developments in the remote southwestern region of the country.

This project involves 30 major contractors, 100 subcontractors, 1,000 supply vendors, and more than 70,000 construction workers. Al-Azman said the company devised a number of new strategies to manage this army of people and engineering resources.

One of them was to establish an automated database program that ties together the work that all these contractors are responsible for and serves as platform for the management teams to interface with one another. This program also generates constant progress reports, which Al-Azman said gives the management teams a “high-resolution” look at which parts of the project are on track or not.

He also said that the project team realized early on that face-to-face discussions between its numerous contractors were essential to meeting the project’s goals. To deal with the challenge of having so many people spread across four continents and many more time zones, the company established quarterly mini-conferences where 150 lead contractors meet to scrutinize agendas and ensure their targets are being met.

To ensure the Jazan Complex continues to move in the right direction, “we must strive to continue to learn as individuals, teams, and as organizations,” Al-Azman said. “Projects by their nature are very dynamic and they will not stand still. Why should we?”

Another challenge he addressed during his remarks had to do with the impact that current low oil prices will have on megaprojects going forward. Al-Azman’s advice was that with hindsight in hand, companies should build the potential for volatility into their megaproject designs.

“If you do the proper planning at the beginning, you can probably phase out what you don’t need or build a different stage later on,” he said, adding that the flexibility to reduce a project’s scope is the simplest and best way to cut costs in response to low oil and gas prices.

22 Sep 2016

Webinar Examines Unmanned Aerial Systems for Oil and Gas

A webinar set for 27 September will take a close look at the emerging use of unmanned aerial systems (UASs) in the oil and gas industry.


Balaji Ramachandran, who works in the Geomatics Program  in the Department of Applied Sciences at Nicholls, will speak on the new breed of remote sensing platforms. According to the Unmanned Systems Roadmap 2007–2032 document produced by the US Department of Defense, an unmanned system is “a powered vehicle that does not carry a human operator, can be operated autonomously or remotely, can be expendable or recoverable, and can carry a lethal or nonlethal payload. Unmanned vehicles are the primary component of unmanned systems.”

UAS are widely used in military applications that are “dull, dirty, and dangerous.” The size of the aircraft ranges from as small as 10 cm to Global Hawks drones with wingspans as wide as 70 m. Over the years, numerous terminologies have been associated with UASs—“remotely piloted vehicles,” “uninhabited aerial vehicles,” and “remotely operated aerial vehicles.”

A UAS can be equipped with a variety of multiple and interchangeable imaging devices and sensors, such as digital video cameras; infrared cameras; thermal, multispectral, and hyperspectral sensors; synthetic aperture radars; laser scanners; chemical, biological, and radiological sensors; and weather-monitoring devices. Small UAS (sUAS) platforms are ideal for aerial robotics in facility inspection and monitoring of deepwater production platforms and offshore and onshore facilities; as rapid response and assessment tools to monitor oil spills; for monitoring endangered species along oil and gas operation corridors; and for ensuring security of critical infrastructure.

Robotics technologies present an opportunity to develop reliable and deployable solutions to support business processes while removing personnel from the operating theater or accessing areas that would otherwise be difficult or impossible. Nicholls’ Geomatics Program started investigating the adoption of emerging UAS technology in the post-Katrina era for monitoring and mapping the coast. Since its inception as a research endeavor in 2005, the sUAS program has now grown into a mature component of Geomatics program instruction and research. The ongoing research projects include characterization of Louisiana barrier islands, inspection of offshore platforms, infrastructure monitoring, and precision agriculture. An sUAS certification program is being designed to prepare students in UAS-related careers.

Sign up for the webinar here.

13 Sep 2016

Report Focuses on Growing Threats of Extreme Weather, Energy/Water/Food Nexus, and Cyberattacks

Emerging physical, financial, and virtual risks pose an ever-greater threat to the security and supply of energy. The transformation of markets and business models, driven by climate-change policy commitments, are putting unprecedented strain on the energy sector at a critical time, says a new World Energy Council report. It contends that energy systems must be smarter, not just stronger, to withstand diverse emerging risks and be more resilient.

The findings come just a month before the 23rd World Energy Congress in Istanbul, where high-level discussions exploring these energy resilience issues will be led by Satoru Katsuno, president and chairman of Chubu Electric Power Company, and Juerg Trueb,  managing director for environmental and commodity markets with Swiss Re Corporate Solutions. They will look at the risks to the industry and, crucially, what policy solutions are needed to adjust to the new normal.

The Road to Resilience: Financing Resilient Energy Infrastructure, launched at the International Economic Forum of the Americas (IEFA) Toronto Global Forum on 13 September, focuses on three critical emerging risks—extreme weather events, energy/water/food nexus, and cyberthreats. It provides an overview of the Road to Resilience series developed in collaboration with project partners Swiss Re Corporate Solutions and Marsh & McLennan Companies and finds

  • Energy is the second-most water-intensive industry after agriculture, with 98% of power supply dependent on the availability of water
  • Extreme weather events have increased by a factor of four over the past 30 years; frequent and severe weather events can affect energy infrastructure across the value chain and often lead to higher demand
  • The sophistication and frequency of cyberattacks is growing and continues to keep energy leaders in Europe and North America awake at night; by 2018, the oil and gas industries could be spending USD 1.87 billion each year on cybersecurity

These threats affect both the physical structures and the capital returns that are needed to advance energy systems to a more sustainable future. Therefore, successfully managing these risks has become crucial for energy leaders globally, bringing the need for resilience to the forefront.

Christoph Frei, secretary general of the World Energy Council, said, “With accelerating energy systems integration, resilience is no longer just about returning single assets to full operation after a disruptive event. When interdependent parts of a system are blacked out, the system as a whole is at risk of being deadlocked.

“The different risks to resilience have very distinct meanings and priorities in different regions. Yet, the imperative to cope with these risks is a powerful catalyst for innovation with transformative global impact: innovation in technology, system design and management, cross-country and -value-chain cooperation, the required policies, and, last but not least, financing concepts. Securing the future investments to expand and transform the sector is the critical challenge ahead.”

Jeroen van der Veer, executive chairperson for Road to Resilience and former chief executive officer of Royal Dutch Shell, said, “For the financial sector, our resilience work highlights both risks and opportunities. Missing out on deep understanding of the shifting resilience landscape will expose short-sighted investors, while a variety of financing mechanisms are available and under development to better cope with emerging risks.”

Over 2 years, the series of reports examined the evolution of these risks and their effects on energy infrastructure and identified measures required to increase resilience of and improve the financing conditions for investments in energy infrastructure that are able to cope with these new challenges.

Key recommendations within The Road to Resilience: Financing Resilient Energy Infrastructure include

  • Smarter design of energy systems: Energy systems must be smarter, not just stronger, to withstand diverse emerging risks and be more resilient.
  • Encourage diversity within the energy sector and related industries: Diversity increases flexibility and helps to avoid and mitigate the implications of potential threats.
  • Increased private finance infrastructure: Resilience is vital in attracting a more-diverse group of investors, including institutional investors, to the energy sector.
  • Improved regulation and market guidance: Policymakers must develop clear, transparent, predictable legal frameworks to ensure resilience and stimulate finance.

A frontier session on Day 2 of the 23rd World Energy Congress, The Road to Resilience: Managing and Mitigating Extreme Weather Risk, will be held on 10 October.

Read the report here (PDF).


12 Sep 2016

Ghana’s Growth Draws Professionals to HSE Conference 

Health, safety, and environment professionals in the oil and gas industry will meet next month in Ghana for the SPE African Health, Safety, Security, Environment, and Social Responsibility Conference and Exhibition. The conference will be held 4–6 October at the Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel in Accra with the theme “Guided by History, Shaping the Future; Protecting People and the Environment in Africa.”

HSC Africa 960x960 Social Media web banThis conference is the largest gathering in Africa designed to create opportunities to network with professionals and key stakeholders and enhance knowledge in the health, safety, environment, and security practices. The 2014 conference saw more than 200 registered attendees from 17 countries and offered nine technical sessions presenting 27 technical papers. This year’s conference will present 30 papers in nine technical sessions. Session topics include

  • Overcoming security issues faced in Ghana
  • Lessons learned from infectious disease outbreaks in Ghana
  • Ensuring operational safety in the midst of volatile regulatory changes and uncertainty

Government officials and oil and gas leaders will take part in the main panel sessions on each day. The speakers for the opening ceremony and keynote speech session will be 2017 SPE President Janeen Judah, Thomas Manu with the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, and Sherry Ayittey with the Ghana Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development.

Kwame Boakye-Agyei, director of environment, health, safety, and security at Kosmos Energy Ghana, is cochairman of the conference committee along with Manuel O. Graças de Deus of Chevron.


Q: Accra will host SPE’s HSE Africa event in October. Can you tell us a bit more about the conference and why Ghana was chosen to host it?

Boakye-Agyei: This SPE conference is the largest HSE gathering in Africa designed to create opportunities to network with HSE professionals and key stakeholders globally and very much provide the platform for experts and stakeholders to enhance knowledge in the health, safety, environment, sustainability, and security practices.

This year’s SPE African Health, Safety, Security, Environment and Social Responsibility Conference and Exhibition is focused on leveraging our diverse and unique industry expertise to better understand the emerging futures of oil and gas opportunities and to build capacity while addressing the daunting operational challenges faced by the industry.

Ghana was chosen because of its interesting and unfolding history as an emerging and bourgeoning oil and gas country in Africa. Home to the famous Jubilee superfield discovered by Kosmos Energy in 2007 and operated by Tullow Oil, Ghana remains welcoming to new investors and offers a pleasant conferencing and learning atmosphere.

Q: As you know, the industry is currently facing enormous challenges, particularly from low oil prices. We have seen far-reaching cost cuts and mass lay-offs. To what extent have these developments affected or compromised health, safety, security, environment, and social responsibility?

Boakye-Agyei: Certainly, a challenging time for industry. However, safety cannot, in any way, be comprised when striving for cost efficiency. It has become evident that companies and contractors who choose to cut health, safety, environment, and security budget risk suffering serious consequences and even greater cost implications. It takes enormous resources and strategic behavior to sustain a good HSE behavior, and to cut resources mostly ends up undercutting efficient operations. Although the oil prices have plummeted in recent times, there is increasing evidence that HSE advances are being made to improve the efficiency and reduce the cost of operations. This means that competence in asset integrity, training for workforce and leadership engagement continues to be as important as always, even against the backdrop of lower oil prices.

It is interesting to know that the choices that companies make right now would determine how successful they would be able to effectively resume operations when prices pick up again. In every way, safety outcomes have a direct impact on the company’s bottom line.

Read the full interview here.

Read more about the conference here.

Register for the conference here.

9 Sep 2016

PetroTalk: The Value of Water

SPE recorded several presentations from the 2016 International Conference on Health, Safety, Security, Environment, and Social Responsibility held in Stavanger and is presenting them as PetroTalks. These insightful presentations were captured from experts within and beyond the oil and gas industry in order to bring the conversations to a larger audience.

Stuart Orr with WWF International talks about how we can begin to think about water on the resource level, saying that the value of water should be considered beyond simply its cost. He says that it is important to “focus not just on your impacts but how you are impacted by water management, because it is the ultimate shared and managed resource.”

9 Sep 2016

Safety Improvements in Unconventionals Require Situational Awareness

Past experiences with problematic situations often drive the decision-making process, and, while experience may be helpful, it can also lead to the development of biases that hamper an organization’s ability to manage dynamic environments such as unconventional projects. As unconventionals have grown in complexity, the effects of critical errors on safety and production have grown in magnitude. In order to have a strong error-management system, companies must emphasize situational awareness in their operations, an expert said.

In a presentation held at the Unconventional Resources Technology Conference in San Antonio, Wayne Jackson discussed how a focus on situational awareness can help operators improve on-site safety and operational efficiency. Jackson is president of Cougarstone Solutions, a technology company based in Calgary.

Jackson said the severity of an incident on a project is often judged less on the error that initiates the incident and more on the consequences of the incident, as an error that triggers an incident may have occurred numerous times in previous operations without incident. Because of this, he said error management should center around improving the efficiency of the manual systems and infrastructure on a project.

“As an organization, we must always focus on error reduction across the board,” Jackson said. “This is a systems problem. It’s not a problem with people and their lack of understanding or their lack of training.”

Task saturation is one of the biggest obstacles organizations face when confronted with problems, as employees are being asked to accept an increasing number of responsibilities for tasks, events, and jobs happening simultaneously on a project. Operators must be mindful of the workloads being assumed on projects. Jackson said that, when their staffs reach a point of task saturation, operators must be prepared to reassess, or even abandon, additional tasks they wish to assign.

“We have to remember, as leaders of our organizations, that every person has a limit where task saturation occurs,” he said. “At that point when task saturation occurs, something has to give, or it must not occur.”

1 Sep 2016

PetroTalk: Complexity of Water as a Resource

SPE recorded several presentations from the 2016 International Conference on Health, Safety, Security, Environment, and Social Responsibility held in Stavanger and is presenting them as PetroTalks. These insightful presentations were captured from experts within and beyond the oil and gas industry in order to bring the conversations to a larger audience.

In this PetroTalk, Will Sarni with Deloitte Consulting talks about the complexity of water as a resource, including the energy/water/food nexus and water’s current scarcity trajectory. His talk examines our relationship with water and our role as stewards of water. “I view water as a business issue, economic development issue, and ecosystem and social wellbeing issue,” he said.

15 Aug 2016

Column: The Human Factor—Watch Out For the Five Behavioral Traps

This article will look at how to overcome the five behavioral traps that lead people to make decisions that lead to actions that result in people being hurt.

Bill Robb

Keep It Simple—With a Behavioral Case Study
Unfortunately, many people who write about and promote human factors use complex and sometimes vague terminology such as, “cognitive dissonance,” “cognitive biases,” “cognitive ergonomics,” “heuristics,” “models,” “paradigms,” “frontal cortex,” “the limbic system,” and “behavioral marker system.” Human factors is often defined as covering almost everything to do with what human beings think and do and what influences that thinking and doing. Of course, this does not help us help people on the frontline stay safe.

A more effective way to improve and sustain safety performance is to show people how their own behaviors hurt them and others. The best way to coach people to overcome the behavioral traps is by using short case studies.

Here is an example:

At about 0810 on a Monday morning, at a construction site, a person was offloading rolled sheet metal insulation casing from a truck to enable another team to start its job. The team supervisor explained that his guys had been waiting since 0730 and asked the person to please help by unloading the metal as soon as possible. This task was done every Monday morning. The person was wearing ordinary work gloves when the procedure required Kevlar gloves. The person was distracted by his friend shouting something about the football match on Sunday. The person’s right hand was trapped between the sharp edge of casing and the side of the truck, resulting in severed tendons on two fingers requiring an operation.

What can we learn from a mini-investigation?

Behavioral Trap 1: The Fear Factor
Why would an experienced, well-meaning person choose not to wear the correct personal protective equipment (PPE)? The answer: There was none in the storeroom because the ordering system used was ineffective. (Yes, we know that accidents always have some causes remote from the worksite). However, without the right PPE, why did the person not stop the job and plan another method? The answer: He did not want to let down the other team who needed the metal. Why do we not want to let people down? We are afraid of being accused of being unhelpful or not a team player or even upsetting the supervisor and being shouted at or disciplined. Here are some of the other natural human unhealthy fears injured parties say drove them to do the wrong thing:

  • Afraid to be seen as lazy
  • Afraid to be seen as a “bad person” (not helping, not a team player)
  • Afraid to be seen as a trouble maker
  • Afraid to admit that we do not understand
  • Afraid to be seen as incompetent
  • Afraid to be seen as weak
  • Afraid of upsetting workmates
  • Afraid of losing our jobs
  • Afraid of looking stupid

Behavioral Trap 2: Unintentional Pressure From Supervisors and Workmates
In the old days, the pressure from supervisors was intentional—shouting, mocking, and even saying, “Do it or you are fired!” Nowadays, the pressure is mostly unintentional, such as asking people nicely to help. Here are some other examples of unintentional pressure:

  • Not giving enough or clear instructions
  • Not setting an example
  • Body language indicating threats or displeasure
  • Unreasonable time pressures
  • Asking people to help when they are not trained or experienced enough
  • Asking people twice how long they will be on a job
  • Making jokes about a person’s appearance or the way he or she works
  • Comparing one crew (or person) against another

Remember, unintentional pressure can also come from workmates who may be in a hurry and put pressure on a colleague to cut corners to get things done.

Behavioral Trap 3: Lack of Awareness
The friend shouting was not really aware of the effect he was having on the person. Perhaps the injured person was not aware enough of the sharp metal casing and the positioning of the truck. Many accidents today are caused merely by people just not seeing, hearing, or smelling that something is not right.

Behavioral Trap 4: Loss of Concentration
Do you agree that, in the case study, concentration was lost in two ways? First, listening to his friend took concentration away from the job and onto football. Second, because this was a routine job done every Monday, the injured person may have been on autopilot and thinking of something else. In some accidents, the lack of concentration has been caused by fatigue, worry about bad domestic/financial situations or an ill child or elderly parent, or worry about being made redundant.

Behavioral Trap 5: Wrongly Diminishing the Risk
Diminishing the risk is a mental trick we play in our minds. We know something is not right, but we convince ourselves it is OK to go ahead because

  • “It’s only a small one.”
  • “It will only take 5 minutes.”
  • “We’ve done it many times before.”
  • “We’ll be extra careful.”

Can you see the trap we set for ourselves? So what if it’s small; it may weight 45kg. You can die in 1 minute, never mind 5, and, even if we have done something 100 times, maybe today’s conditions are different.

How Do We Avoid the Behavioral Traps?
In almost every accident, some of the five behavioral traps are at work. The challenge is how to translate this knowledge into practical coaching to help people avoid the traps. Lectures do not work; you can take the horse to the trough, but you cannot force it to drink. The best way is to hold short workshops based on accident scenarios and ask people to suggest recommendations to prevent similar accidents. Then, have an extended discussion about why people might not follow those sensible recommendations. In the discussion, the five behavioral traps become evident.

Also during the discussion, how to overcome the five traps is discussed as follows:

  • Work on becoming hyperaware. Be more inquisitive and get used to asking questions about anything that does not seem right.
  • Think before you speak to or act with others. For a few microseconds, consider the effect on others of what you are about to do. Consciously think about reducing the fear factor where you work.
  • Know that 80% of our human fear is not real; we only think it is so. Real fear (fear of dangerous equipment and crossing the road) are good; they help us survive. However, fear of looking stupid or lazy is only what we think others will think. Build more courage to do the right thing. Test whether or not your negative fear is real.
  • Supervisors should know their people well enough to know if some personal issue is causing so much stress that they cannot function safely. In those rare instances, and depending on the task, get someone else to do it or postpone the job. For you and me, if we know in our heart of hearts that we cannot function, we should admit we feel we cannot do the job safely. Unfortunately, there is nothing to help you; it is a judgement call on part of the supervisor and the employee.
  • Train yourself to hear when you and others make excuses to go ahead. Listen in toolbox talks, in risk assessments, and as the job progresses for “It’s only …” or “It’s just …”. Stop and ask people why they are saying that. It may be nothing, but they could be diminishing the risk.

 It Is Easy To Understand but Needs Discipline To Effect Change
We know why, despite all the safety efforts, experienced, well-intentioned people do things that lead to accidents. I am sure you agree the solutions are simple and low-cost. However, they require a different mind-set from traditional training—simple exercises to bring people to their own realization that, in the end, it is their own behaviors that hurt them and others. This ultimate personal responsibility—no matter what—is a tough realization for us humans. Once we get over the initial shock, it leads to even better performance, not only in safety but also in life in general.

12 Aug 2016

Creating a Safety Culture: What It Is and How To Get There

Safety culture can be distilled into nine characteristics predictive of safety outcomes. By tracking performance across these characteristics, companies can measure their performance against the world’s most successful safety organizations, both within the industry and without. More importantly, they can identify gaps in their culture and breakdowns in their safety performance, thereby establishing clear goals to overcoming them and achieving safety objectives. To improve safety performance and create lasting change in organizational culture, leaders can focus on developing 10 safety-specific leadership capabilities.

A strong safety culture means more than just better injury rates. Organizations good at safety have been shown to do better across all performance areas. With improvements in safety comes greater employee commitment to company goals, more discretionary effort, better team functioning, and a healthier bottom line.

A high-functioning safety culture is defined by a clear vision from leadership that articulates actionable steps and specific behaviors leading to the desired state. When people know the goal and what is required of them to achieve it, they will not get lost in vague mandates that fail to motivate or that fall short of galvanizing individuals around safety improvement.

Culture change requires a leadership team that is committed to the vision and capable of guiding the organization through obstacles and the inevitable pushback that occurs with any initiative. Leaders can learn skills and develop capabilities that will move the organization in the desired direction and build performance across the nine culture characteristics indicative of world-class safety performance. With visible commitment to safety, leaders will gain credibility with the workforce and engage people in the process.

Culture Characteristics Predictive of Safety Outcomes
Procedural Justice. This characteristic reflects the extent to which the individual perceives fairness in the supervisor’s decision-making process. Leaders enhance perceptions of procedural justice when they make decisions characterized by consistency across people and time, lack of bias, accuracy (decisions are based on good information and informed opinion), correctability (decisions can be appealed), representativeness (the procedure reflects the concerns, values, and outlook of those affected), and ethicality.

Leader/Member Exchange. This dimension reflects the relationship the employee has with his or her supervisor. In particular, this scale measures the employee’s level of confidence that his or her supervisor will look out for his or her interests. Leaders can enhance perceptions of leader/member exchange by developing positive working relationships with their reports and getting each person to see how achieving organizational goals can be fulfilling both to the leader and to the employee.

Transformational leadership exerts influence principally through relationships with employees. In a work group, the supervisor develops relationships with each of the workers. The leader exerts influence by getting each person to see how his or her objectives support the larger objectives of the organization.

Management Credibility. Management credibility reflects the perception of the employee that what management says is consistent with what management does. Leader behaviors that influence perceptions of trustworthiness include consistency, integrity (telling the truth and keeping promises), sharing control in decision making and through delegation, communication, and benevolence (demonstration of concern).

Perceptions that a manager is competent seem to be a necessary but not sufficient basis for development of trust. That is, workers are unlikely to trust a manager who is seen as incompetent, but competence alone does not necessarily lead to trustworthiness.

Perceived Organizational Support. This characteristic describes the perception of employees that the organization cares about them, values them, and supports them. The extent to which employees believe the organization is concerned with their needs and interests strongly influences the likelihood that they will “go the extra mile.” Leaders can demonstrate organizational support by engaging in and communicating efforts that go well beyond what is required.

Perceived organization support is not the same as job satisfaction, although the two are often related. Employees who believe the organization cares about them are more likely to be satisfied. Perceived organizational support is an overall perception by employees of organizational commitment to them, whereas job satisfaction is an affective (positive/negative) response to specific aspects of the work situation (e.g., pay, physical working conditions, work schedules).

Teamwork. Teamwork measures the perceived effectiveness of work groups to function as an effective team. Group process affects whether people will talk to one another about safety, and it is directly related to safety outcomes such as level of at-risk behavior and injury reporting. It also influences perceptions of communication around safety and of organizational value for safety.

Work-Group Relations. The work-group-relations characteristic reflects the degree to which coworkers treat each other with respect, listen to each other’s ideas, help each other out, and follow through on commitments made. Work-group relations are related to supervisor fairness as well as to worker/supervisor relationships. These beliefs influence whether employees will speak up to one another about safety issues and raise safety concerns with the supervisor.

Work-group relations are affected by the leader of the group. Supportive and trustworthy behavior by the leader is likely to lead to trust among members of the group.

Organizational Value for Safety. This dimension relates to perceptions of the extent to which the organization ­values safety as represented by the prioritization of safety compared to other concerns; how informed management is about safety issues; and the willingness of management to invest time, energy, or money in addressing safety issues. The higher the perceived value for safety, the more likely it is that workers will raise safety issues, work safely, and not cover up incidents and injuries.

Upward Communication. This characteristic addresses perceptions of the quality and quantity of upward communication about safety, the extent to which people feel encouraged to bring up safety concerns, and the level of comfort in discussing safety-related issues with the supervisor. The climate around communication influences the willingness of workers to speak up to one another about safety, the level of at-risk behavior, and the number of reported injuries.

Approaching Others. The approaching-others component addresses beliefs about the likelihood that workers will speak up to a coworker who they think is at risk for injury, pass along information about safety, or step up to help a coworker do a job more safely. The more likely workers are to speak up with each other, the higher the level of safe behaviors in a work group.

Approaching others is related to both leader/member exchange and the commitment of the team leader (supervisor) to safety. The quality of the relationship with the supervisor is related to the willingness of team members to speak up. If the leader values safety, the subordinate can reciprocate high-quality leader/member exchange by speaking to others about safety.

What Sets High-Performers Apart?
Experience working with companies around the world in some of the most demanding environments has led to the identification of key practices and organizational capabilities that set organizations that excel at safety apart from others. Among these practices, great safety organizations define a clear vision for safety; create a comprehensive network of communication and education across departments, levels, and sites; and gain the buy-in and commitment of employees.

Organizations that perform high in safety are created at the top by leaders who are serious about culture change, know the role they play in creating culture, and who work with their teams on a daily basis to cultivate the culture they want to see. These leaders set the tone for the entire organization, back up what they promise, and talk about safety improvement in terms of exposure reduction rather than injury. A previously published article identified 10 characteristics that distinguish great safety organizations. They are

  • Understand the real safety objectives of the organization’s leadership.

It is possible to identify, track, and measure the characteristics that make up great safety organizations. Because of this, in turn, it is possible to create a discernible and actionable path toward safety improvement across a host of cultural scales. There is no silver bullet in safety, and culture cannot be changed overnight. But, with leadership commitment starting at the executive level and extending to line leaders, a climate of change can be created that supports and sustains a truly great safety ­organization.

11 Aug 2016

European Commission Strives Toward Reasonable Shale-Gas Regulation

Following years of deliberation, the European Union (EU) released a recommendation on unconventional hydrocarbons and a related communication in 2014. Although these documents are not legally binding on member states, they are nevertheless of great significance because they indicate, for the first time, the current and likely future stance of EU institutions on the regulation of unconventional hydrocarbons. This paper traces the origins and development of these documents, which provide vital clues for the road ahead in European shale-gas regulation.

The potential threats of groundwater contamination, irresponsible disposal of flowback, the repercussions of significant land use, and increased emission of greenhouse gases have been named in recent scientific studies as main potential threats of shale-gas extraction. The current European law framework on environmental protection, mainly consisting of directives and regulations, entails some gaps and does not cover these issues comprehensively. Thus, the EU took recent action to develop shale-gas-specific regulation in order to close the identified gaps in the existing general framework.

Because the existing secondary law norms were elaborated at a time when shale gas extraction was virtually unknown in Europe, one would suspect that they entail provisions that do not sufficiently cover the specific potential threats of this technique. Indeed, there are a number of issues. Probably the most important one is that environmental impact assessments (EIAs) are not compulsory for shale-gas projects. Although member states have the right to require an EIA for specific, individual shale-gas projects, this discretion does not appropriately match the level of potential environmental hazards of shale-gas extraction.

The paper does not engage in an analy­sis of the pre-existing EU regulatory framework but focuses on the EU’s efforts to close the gaps in the framework that have been discovered previously. The EU introduced nonbinding, soft-law measures in this regard to create a level playing field among all member states in the form of the 2014 Shale Gas Recommendation and the 2014 Shale Gas Communication.

The paper highlights the main features of the recommendation and the communication and considers whether they are sufficient to close the gaps in the EU secondary law framework. Overall, the ­author concludes that these measures go a long way in addressing the perceived gaps, although they do not succeed in closing all of them.

Despite that rather favorable assessment, the recommendation and the communication have been criticized because of their legal guise as nonbinding soft-law norms. The fear that individual states could simply ignore the recommended measures if they do not fit in with their respective agendas on shale-gas extraction was expressed by some scholars. This peculiarity, they argued, could lead to a “race to the bottom” of environmental standards, as one member state may try to undercut the others  on environmental standards in order to attract investors.

However, this paper concludes that the described race to the bottom would be a rather short one and would not put the environmental standard in the EU into any real danger. The existing environmental directives and regulations of the EU constitute the ultimate bottom line, below which member states are not allowed to operate. Because of the high standard and elaborated nature of this bottom line, there currently is no real danger for environmental standards in Europe to be lowered to any significant extent. Moreover, member states would be ill-advised to take a chance and simply ignore these recommendations. A considerable number of legally binding EU directives started their existence as recommendations in the past. In line with this history, the 2014 Shale Gas Recommendation explicitly threatens member states with the introduction of legally binding norms if the EU is not satisfied with the domestic implementation of the recommendation. Thus, it is not unlikely that the recommendation could turn into an EU directive or regulation.

Although the 2014 Shale Gas Recommendation and the 2014 Shale Gas Communication go to some length in addressing current gaps, they do not cover all of them. Even more importantly, the 2014 measures are not legally binding on member states. However, this paper concludes that the nonbinding legal character could be an advantage because it provides member states with the greatest possible leeway to implement shale-gas regulation that is tailored to their individual needs.

Both documents recommend to member states that wish to engage in shale-gas extraction a set of measures and ­operating standards in order to create a level playing field among those states. The measures indeed go some way in closing some of the pre-existing gaps. The framework urges member states to carry out a strategic environmental assessment before issuing licenses that may lead to shale-gas extraction. The 2014 Shale Gas Communication entails a pledge of the EU to look into the issue of a specific best-available-technique reference document for shale-gas extraction under the Mining Waste Directive. This action is designed to ensure that waste is appropriately handled and treated and that the risk of water, air, and soil pollution is minimized.

Moreover, the framework ­reinforces the monitoring requirements under the Water Framework Directive and the Groundwater Directive. Baseline studies of shale-gas sites with regard to water, soil, and air quality, and other issues, should be conducted; their results should be benchmarked against future results of comprehensive monitoring exercises. Furthermore, the framework calls upon member states to apply the provisions on environmental liability to all activities taking place at a shale-gas-extraction site. This request shall be understood explicitly as including strict liability for greenhouse-gas emissions and overbearing use of land, which currently do not fall under the scope of the Environmental Liability Directive.

However, the European Commission failed to close some other gaps. Most notably, it called upon member states to ensure that an EIA is carried out for each shale-gas project but took no action to insert shale-gas projects into Annex I of the EIA Directive. This move would have made EIAs obligatory for all shale-gas projects, already at EU level. By simply passing the ball back to member states, the EU did not adequately address the main gap in EU EIA legislation.

However, the 2014 framework on shale-gas extraction does not actually implement the described measures but merely recommends to member states to take these measures into account. The framework has been molded into a recommendation and a communication, secondary EU law measures with no direct binding force.

The nonbinding nature of these EU regulations on shale-gas extraction became the main point of criticism. It was argued that nonbinding legislation is an ineffective way to create a level playing field for shale-gas extraction for all member states because individual states are allowed to ignore the measures outlined in the recommendation if the measures do not fit in with their respective agendas. This could lead to a race to the bottom of environmental standards, because one member state could try to undercut another on environmental-compliance costs for foreign investors. However, this race to the bottom could not last indefinitely because the existing ­environmental-law framework of the EU constitutes the bottom line for member states.

A review of the effectiveness of the framework shall be conducted within 18 months of its coming into force. Depending on the outcome of this review, the commission is going to determine if further, more-stringent, regulatory action on shale-gas extraction is required. In fact, this is the way in which a considerable number of directives came into force in the past.

Ultimately, the nonbinding character of the 2014 Shale Gas Recommendation is in some respects an advantage. The principle of subsidiarity, under which member states should take responsibility for matters that can be decided at their level, is honored. Subsidiarity must also be viewed in the context of proportionality. The principle of proportionality requires the use of nonbinding instruments (e.g., recommendations) in EU environmental legislation, wherever possible.

10 Aug 2016

Service Company Explores Pathways To Make Driving Inherently Safer

In risk management, an inherently safer approach implies an attempt to eliminate, or at least reduce the severity and likelihood of, incident occurrence through careful attention to fundamental design and layout. This paper examines whether this approach can be applied and be effective in managing transportation safety concerning which, historically, most of the responsibility for safe driving has been placed on the individual driver and less on the design of the transportation system and features of the equipment.

As is often the case for change management, this undertaking was motivated by a tragic motor-vehicle accident in Saudi Arabia, which resulted in three fatalities, two employees and a third-party driver. Transportation-­management systems were implemented and in place, including a contractor-selection process, journey-management program, ­defensive-driving training, and in-­vehicle monitoring systems, but, as sometimes happens, compliance with planning and executional requirements was inadequate. The ­accident-investigation findings uncovered a number of gaps that existed in the transportation-management system and that eventually led to the catastrophic event. These revelations, coupled with the vision that “all motor-vehicle accidents are preventable,” presented an opportunity to revisit the way transportation safety was managed. The entire life cycle of the journey was reviewed and reorganized, from the planning stage of the journey to journey’s completion. Such an approach posed a challenge to the company definition of “preventability” for motor-vehicle accidents, which states that a preventable accident is a vehicle accident in which the driver could have driven (but failed to do so) in such a manner as to identify an accident-­producing situation soon enough to take reasonable and prudent action to avoid such an accident. This definition places the primary responsibility for preventing a vehicle accident on the driver and his ability to anticipate road hazards, assess the risks, and take actions to avoid the accident through the ability to challenge the process, including questioning the need or timing of the journey itself.

Instead of the instinctive quick-fix reaction of placing responsibility solely on the driver, the new perspective dictated that responsibility for preventing accidents lies with the company management and its ability to create a system that would comprehensively combine the management of all transportation aspects under one umbrella, including:

  • Human factors and driving behaviors
  • Journey management, with all necessary reviews and approvals
  • Vehicle speed and other driving characteristics
  • Vehicle condition and conformance to standards

Inherently Safe Driving-System Framework
What makes a system robust and inherently safe, and what must it look like? In the world of computer science, robustness is defined as “the ability of a computer system to cope with errors during execution” and also as “the ability of an algorithm to continue operating despite abnormalities of input or calculations.” To build a robust operating system, computer companies study many possible inputs and input combinations, program against every point of possible failure, and make the system intelligent enough to handle all possible error states. The goal for a new system is for it to be robust enough to monitor proactively (without direct involvement of humans), prevent any known or assumed compliance failures or violations, and enforce compliance during driving. The pillars of the conceptual inherently safe and robust driving system are intelligence, visibility, compliance, and proactivity, which rest on the foundation of independence and automation.

Intelligence. This is the ability of the fleet and journey-management software to build connections independently and automatically between the movements of vehicles and applicable journey plans, run compliance checks against their approval levels, run compliance checks against driver competencies, and highlight and send any potential breaches to designated personnel for them to audit.

Visibility. This is the ability to provide accurate, real-time information on movements of vehicles, journeys being undertaken, and their associated information such as driver, vehicle, and trip progress. In addition to the operational data, which is required to monitor execution, the system is required to provide visibility of current trends in various driving aspects (e.g., at-risk driving behaviors, journey-management breaches, fleet utilization, and night driving).

Compliance. This is the ability to ensure compliance of all elements of the driving process (i.e., driver, vehicle, journey route, and plan), either before or during the journey, to the standards within the preapproved criteria. The system must be set up to prevent selection of an unfit driver or vehicle for an intended journey, and, if the journey must progress according to a preapproved route, any deviations must be identified and corrected immediately.

Proactivity. This is the ability of the system to prevent potential breaches through predetermined controls or check points. Examples of this would be the inability to select an approved light-vehicle driver for a heavy-­vehicle trip (even if a person possesses a ­commercial-vehicle driving license) or the ability to alert a driver to stop and rest at predetermined intervals.

Independence and Automation
This driving system rests upon two primary features—automation and independence. Automation is intended to minimize the human-to-system interaction, whereas independence implies freedom from operational factors that may influence the safe operation of vehicles.

Independence. Day-to-day priorities influence operational activities. Deadlines must be met, and, often, these priorities conflict with values. It takes integrity and commitment to follow the rules, but, as is commonly recognized, the human factor is often less reliable than ­others. To avoid possible conflicts of interest, provide uncompromising independence from operational factors, and provide sufficient available resources, a new department was created called the Transportation Office. The entire purpose of this department is to oversee all transportation aspects of employees and contractors in support of the company’s work activities. This office directly manages all transport vehicles, drivers, Road Journey Management Center operations, and the Journey Management Plan process, and performs regular audits of the entire system.

The Transportation Office has responsibility and full authority for final approval of any journey to take place. Even if a journey has been approved by the driver’s manager, it will still require approval from the Journey Management Center.

Automation. Fleet-Management Improvements. In-vehicle monitoring systems are used to control compliance with speed limits and to monitor and correct drivers’ behaviors (e.g., harsh braking and harsh acceleration). However, it was determined that the system could provide more proactive control points to improve the fleet-management process for earlier detection of possible noncompliance and intervention.

Improvements were made to make the system less dependent on drivers’ attitude toward their safety. The system automatically alerts and, if required, enforces the expected behavior, and it provides new data for trend analysis and required further improvements.

e-Journey Management. Making improvements in the management of drivers’ behaviors and vehicle movements was an important step toward the “zero motor-vehicle accidents” vision but was not enough to eliminate vehicular incidents. Failures in the journey execution were a common cause and were responsible for a large percentage of motor-­vehicle accidents. To address this issue, a project was created to develop a solution that focused on “management by exception” through the integration of fleet management and automated journey monitoring. This electronic system is designed to be sufficiently intelligent to run a constant monitoring of vehicle movements and verify the compliance of their execution to their preapproved conditions. If any breach is identified, the system will alert Road Journey Management Center personnel for immediate intervention.

Passive Controls. Considering the risks of possible rollovers, a decision was made to reinforce vehicles with rollover protection. All company-owned vehicles must meet international automotive safety and quality standards, including applicable safety and crush tests by manufacturers, and must be currently safe to use.

Driver Training. A competence-­management concept was adopted regarding driver training. The driver training program has been revised to address critical defensive-driving fundamentals, company-specific driving hazards, and safe-driving expectations. The Core Defensive Driving course covers 25 specific defensive-driving skills, and a student must demonstrate not only academic knowledge of the defensive-driving material but also practical mastery of the defensive-driving skills taught.