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6 Oct 2016

New Technical Report Examines Sharing Safety Lessons

SPE released a new technical report concerning offshore-safety data after its Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (ATCE) in September. The report, “Assessing the Processes, Tools, and Value of Sharing and Learning From Offshore E&P Safety-Related Data,” was written by a committee of subject-matter experts (SMEs) with industry input from a summit held in April. The report is based on discussions and conclusions from the summit and is intended to provide guidance on an industrywide safety-management data-sharing program.

Summit Overview
In 2014, the US Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) approached SPE regarding an opportunity to collaborate on the development of a voluntary industrywide near-miss data-sharing framework. This framework was envisioned as a resource to enhance the industry’s ability to capture and share key learnings from near-miss events with the objective of identifying and mitigating risks. Although the collaboration initially focused only on near misses, evolving discussion resulted in increasing the scope to include a broader range of data. In the spirit of continuous improvement, a related objective was identified: to bring government and industry together to make a safe industry safer and to enhance public confidence in the industry.

Representatives from SPE and BSEE were co-chairs of a summit steering committee that included representatives from SPE, BSEE, exploration and production (E&P) operators, service companies, the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the Center for Offshore Safety, the American Bureau of Shipping, and the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers. Planning for the summit outlined that the scope of the data-collection and -reporting framework would begin with the US outer continental shelf (OCS). Additionally, a secondary objective was established: to consider how existing processes might be leveraged with an overarching objective to extend influence beyond the US OCS to align with other systems and requirements globally. In considering industry alternatives for developing a safety-data management framework, caution was advised to avoid creating an additional layer of reporting expectations beyond the current requirements by regulators and industry associations.

During the summit, Vice Admiral Brian Salerno, director of BSEE, shared his perspective on the importance of industrywide safety-data collection and sharing. He also encouraged the E&P industry to demonstrate to the public how a safe industry may be made safer through more open data sharing.

The discussions, expert opinions, and suggestions offered by the group of safety-data management SMEs during the summit were captured in the technical report, which was posted on the SPE website for comments and then approved by the SPE Board of Directors at ATCE in September.

Find the technical report on OnePetro here.

4 Oct 2016

Column: Risk Management at NASA and Its Applicability to the Oil and Gas Industry

On initial consideration, one might reasonably ask: What can the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) contribute to the oil and gas industry?

About 3 years ago, a senior principal at Deloitte Advisory’s Energy & Resources Operational Risk Group reached out to NASA to better understand the safety culture at NASA with the intent of understanding how that culture might translate to oil and gas operations. Very quickly, the conversation expanded to the realm of risk management.

Working with Deloitte, NASA came to appreciate the remarkable similarities between an offshore deepwater facility and the International Space Station. Both exist in extremely hostile environments. Both function in remote locations where movement of crew and supplies must be carefully choreographed. Both are extremely complex engineering structures where human reliability plays a critical role in mission success, and both have a deep commitment to personal and process safety.

It also should be noted that both have dedicated teams—the onboard crew and the onshore support experts—that live by the mentality that “failure is not an option” because of the consequences to life and the environment should a catastrophic mishap occur.

At NASA, we use qualitative techniques—such as fault trees, failure modes and effects analyses, and hazard assessments—to understand risk based on statistics, experience, or possibilities that our engineers can anticipate. Similarly, upstream oil and gas exploration and production uses qualitative techniques—such as process safety methods, barrier analyses, bowtie charts, hazard identification, and hazard and operability studies—to assess risk. At NASA, these qualitative approaches are augmented by a quantitative risk-assessment technique called probabilistic risk assessment (PRA) to uncover and mitigate low-probability sequences of events that can lead to high-consequence outcomes.

Why PRA?
The technique of PRA was developed by the nuclear power industry and initially published in mid-1975, though not widely publicized. However, the investigation of the Three Mile Island incident in 1979 revealed that the PRA had documented the sequence of low-probability events (both of hardware failures and human errors) that led to the high-­consequence near-meltdown of the nuclear core. As a result, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has required a facility-specific PRA for every nuclear power plant in the United States.

In February 2003, Space Shuttle Columbia was lost on re-entry when a piece of insulation foam broke off from the external tank and struck the wing leading edge of the space shuttle. Recognizing that the cause of this accident was a low-probability, high-consequence event, NASA committed to strengthen its safety and mission assurance capabilities. PRA was adopted and embraced by the Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs.

A PRA creates a rigorous logic flow for a complex system. Every safety-related hardware component is captured as a node and quantitative reliability performance numbers are assigned to each possible outcome. For example, a pump can function as commanded, remain off when commanded on, remain on when commanded off, or operate at only a partial level of capability. Human actions also are captured as logic nodes that can have quantitative reliability information assigned to them. For example, a person can push the correct button within the assigned timeframe, push the wrong button, push the correct button outside the assigned timeframe, or do nothing.

A rigorous PRA also can account for common cause failures in both hardware and software. For example, if a pump fails in one system, then all similar pumps from the same lot/vendor that may exist in entirely separate systems are now suspect.

Given a high-consequence undesirable event (such as loss of hydrocarbon containment), every single path through the logic model that could lead to that event can be assessed. Should a low-probability action occur (perhaps a highly trained individual is distracted and fails to observe a change in the mud flow rate in vs. the mud flow rate out), then every other subsequent low-probability action(s) can be identified to mitigate the undesirable event.

In April 2015, I attended a conference that explored crossover technologies that might have applications to the space and energy sectors. Brian ­Salerno, director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), gave a presentation that included an acknowledgement that BSEE would need better tools to assess risk as operators moved to deeper drilling; higher temperatures and pressures; less well understood environments; and introduced new, emerging technologies. He suggested the need for a quantitative approach to risk management.

The outcome of several meetings was a US Government Interagency Agreement between BSEE and NASA signed in January 2016, formalizing a partnership between the two organizations for 5 years. Under this agreement, NASA will work with BSEE to develop a process for preparing PRAs for offshore deepwater drilling and production operations. Together with the oil and gas industry, we will evaluate whether the additional insights of a PRA provide meaningful information for the operators and contractors as well as for the regulator, BSEE.

NASA has a document to guide in the preparation and execution of a PRA referred to as the “Probabilistic Risk Assessment Procedures Guide for NASA Managers and Practitioners” (NASA document number SP-2011-3421). The first task that BSEE has given NASA is to rewrite the PRA Guide to be relevant to the oil and gas industry. NASA is scheduled to deliver the initial version of the document to BSEE by the end of the 2016 calendar year.

Projects With Anadarko
In addition to working with other government agencies, NASA has a special mechanism for working with commercial organizations. In situations where NASA has unique facilities, technologies, techniques, or experiences, it may enter into a reimbursable agreement (referred to as a Space Act Agreement) to perform work for the mutual benefit of the Space Act partner and NASA.

Anadarko Petroleum is working with suppliers to develop various subsea equipment with working pressures of more than 15,000 psi for their Shenandoah field in the Gulf of Mexico. The director of Engineering and Technology Global for Anadarko, Jim Raney, wanted to have a set of eyes from outside the industry look over the approach to risk management being used by his team for this activity. Anadarko entered into a Space Act Agreement with NASA in November 2014, enabling NASA to engage and participate in the project.

Anadarko introduced NASA to the unique layout of bowtie charts (an integration of fault trees and event trees), to the barrier analysis approach. Our eventual assessment back to Anadarko was that all their risk-management techniques were qualitative and, while excellently executed, might not capture low-probability, high-consequence events. NASA explained its use of quantitative PRA modeling to capture these types of events.

Anadarko was open-minded to the possibility that PRA might provide insights not otherwise available through their more traditional qualitative risk-management techniques. Because the project would require a blowout preventer (BOP) with a rated working pressure up to 20,000 psi, Anadarko asked NASA to prepare a PRA for a generic 20,000-psi BOP. The work began in October 2015.

The development of the BOP PRA was a true partnership; Anadarko provided world-class expertise on the design and operations of BOPs, and NASA provided world-class modelers and data analysts. The results of the BOP PRA model were presented to Anadarko management on 28 July 2016. A final report was delivered at the end of August.

While it is not my place to discuss any facet of the work that NASA did in partnership with Anadarko, I am able to state that Anadarko followed up the BOP work by asking NASA to perform a PRA of the dynamic positioning system being considered for the Shenandoah development. The PRA for that began in June and is ongoing.

NASA is just beginning to work with BSEE and the oil and gas industry. Our hope is that the benefits of a quantitative assessment of risk will both complement the industry’s current approach to risk management as well as help with risk-informed decision making. It has worked for NASA in the exploration of space. Could it also work for offshore deepwater drilling and production operations?

David Kaplan is a leader at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Johnson Space Center with more than 30 years of experience in aerospace engineering and management. He has been a project manager for Mars hardware, a space shuttle flight controller, and managed the crew health-care equipment on the International Space Station. Most recently, Kaplan served as chief of the Quality Division at the space center. In that position, he managed the NASA Failure Analysis Laboratory, which is instrumental in detecting counterfeit parts and assisting projects to reduce their risks associated with fabrication and operations. Currently, he is involved in assessing the applicability of NASA’s quantitative risk-management techniques to the oil and gas industry. He may be contacted at david.i.kaplan@nasa.gov.

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.