Water-Resource-Management Guide Offers Method for Identifying, Managing Risk

Source: Journal of Petroleum Technology | 13 August 2014

While water issues are often location- and situation-dependent, a standardized guide to water-resource management has been developed for upstream oil- and gas-production projects and operations. The guide provides environmental, regulatory, and socioeconomic practitioners with a consistent and effective method to identify, assess, and manage water-resource-related risks and opportunities. The guide has four steps, each with embedded and scalable tools—data acquisition, data analysis, risk assessment, and risk management.


The availability and quality of fresh-water resources, coupled with increasingly stringent regulatory requirements in many locations, continue to challenge the oil and gas industry. Accordingly, the industry recognizes its responsibility to surrounding communities and to the environment regarding its management of fresh water. One company’s water-resource-management program is built upon a framework of principles designed to help manage interactions with water in order to

  • Protect human health and the environment
  • Consider local water needs when addressing operation requirements
  • Continuously improve technologies, practice, and performance
  • Engage stakeholders in development of sustainable water solutions

In order to provide environmental, regulatory, and socioeconomic practitioners with the knowledge and methods to implement these principles, an upstream water-resource-management guide was developed. The guide does not contain any new requirements but rather is intended to function as a road map for practitioners to help them manage water resources more effectively within the context of existing internal requirements and external considerations, constraints, and requirements.

The objectives of the guide are to

  • Enhance the quality of data gathered regarding the use of water resources
  • Identify and manage water-related risks
  • Assist in the application of appropriate technology and operational practices to improve water-use efficiency and safeguard water quality

Recommended Practice for Reliability, Technical Risk, and Integrity Management

Source: Journal of Petroleum Technology | 12 August 2014

The American Petroleum Institute Recommended Practice 17N (API RP 17N) provides a structured approach that organizations can use to manage risk and uncertainties related to reliability and integrity performance throughout the life of a project. The basic approach is simple and consistent and has the potential to reduce the financial risk of designing, manufacturing, installing, and operating subsea equipment or systems. This paper presents the principles and approaches used in API RP 17N and discusses what it is in general and why it was written. It also describes the status of its recent update.

Why API RP 17N Was Originally Developed

Throughout the 1990s and the early 2000s, there were widespread concerns relating to the reliability of subsea technologies. A number of operators of subsea fields were experiencing equipment failures that had significant adverse effects on production. Many of these failures occurred in the early stages of production and involved more than one component.

Although there are elements of chance in all accidents and failures, when actual failures are studied, the root causes always amount to a failure of management to identify, assess, or manage the risks that they faced. Moreover, the causes of failure cannot be leveled at one organization.

To ascertain the root causes, it would be necessary to address industry reliability-management practices not only during operations but also at the design stage, where there is the greatest opportunity to influence component- and system–reliability performance. Tackling the problem on a company-by–company basis was also not viable. Likewise, it was not realistic for suppliers, with a wide customer base, to invest in reliability-management practices to meet the requirements of just one or two customers in particular. What was required was some form of guidance on reliability and its management that the whole subsea industry and its supply chain could buy into. This was the reason for the development of API RP 17N.

Visualization Techniques Enhance Training, Operations, and Safety

Source: Rigzone | 28 July 2014

The latest in 3D animation and imagery are allowing oil and gas companies to enhance worker training and demonstrate technical concepts and techniques. FuelFX, a media and software company almost exclusively focused on the oil and gas industry, works with major operators, oilfield service companies and large manufacturers.

Describing the company as a broker of knowledge, FuelFX Chief Executive Officer Oliver Diaz said that cutting-edge 3D and visualization technology can allow companies to be more efficient in training workers, improving efficiency and operational safety. Founded 7 years ago, the company grew rapidly following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, when FuelFX worked with BP and other members of the Unified Command by producing daily visualizations to update the Unified Command team, the White House, and the public on the efforts, operational plans, and challenges involved in the Deepwater Horizon response.

3D imaging is not new, but this application represents a step change in communications. The need for new visualization tools stems from the fact that, most of the time, the magic in the oil and gas industry happens with things that can not be seen, or that are 5,000 ft underground, or encased in steel or in high-pressure/high-temperature environments, Diaz said.

Farmer’s Invention Could Make Installing Tank Liners Easier, More Environmentally Friendly

Source: Eagle Ford Texas | 21 July 2014

From out of a Grant County, North Dakota dairy farm comes a tireless inventor and entrepreneur who is affecting the world’s oil industry.

Seymour Volk’s family and friends say he is always thinking, always looking for a better way to do things. “No means go,” is an expression you’ll hear a lot around Seymour Volk. “Tell him something can’t be done and he’ll prove you wrong,” said his wife, Lawana Volk.

Now, some people are saying Volk’s latest invention, the Safety Clamp, makes it easier and more environmentally friendly for oil companies to install tank liners, the massive plastic tarps inside large-volume above-ground open storage tanks. Because they are easy to handle and install, Volk’s Safety Clamps are less likely to be dropped on workers below the tank rim than the traditional models now used in the oil field. Their orange powder coating helps make sure they don’t get lost to rust away in the grass near a tank. Because they are less likely to be dropped, they are also less likely to cause punctures in the plastic liners, which, in turn, helps prevent fluid loss and can help protect the environment. Because workers can install them in seconds around the rim of a tank, oil companies are saving money using his invention.

New Process Cheaply Cleans Produced Water

Source: MIT Technology Review | 14 July 2014

In a nondescript site in Midland, Texas, an inexpensive new process is cleaning up some of the most contaminated water around—the extremely salty stuff that comes up with oil at wells.

This water treatment plant in Midland, Texas, will soon treat 500,000 gallons of oilfield waste water daily.

By the end of next month, the technology is expected to be chugging 500,000 gallons per day, furnishing water that’s sufficiently clean to use in hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas production.

The technology may provide a way to deal with the increasing amounts of contaminated water the fossil fuel industry is generating as it pursues more and more difficult-to-reach deposits. Many oil formations can produce as much as 5 bbl of contaminated water for every 1 bbl of oil. And the volume of this produced water is rising as the industry pumps water into nearly depleted wells to enhance oil recovery.

BSEE Director Says Collaboration Needed Offshore

Source: Fuel Fix | 14 July 2014

One of the biggest obstacles in boosting the safety of offshore drilling is making sure a massive web of contractors and oil companies are working collaboratively to prevent accidents, a top federal regulator says.


Offshore, “you have an operator and multiple contractors and subcontractors,” noted Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Director Brian Salerno in an interview with Platts Energy Week. “The challenge, really, is to get all of them to work together seamlessly and safely.”

Salerno, a former vice admiral in the Coast Guard, noted the distinction between that complex offshore oil and gas hierarchy and a streamlined military operation, with more clearly defined roles and fewer side players.

API Launches Oil and Gas Workforce Website

Source: Offshore Energy Today | 16 June 2014

The American Petroleum Institute (API) officially launched–www.oilgasworkforce.com–a new website that provides information to anyone interested in careers, training, and certifications in the oil and natural gas industry.

“The website is another tool building on API’s worldwide leadership in standards, training, and certification to strengthen the next generation of oil and natural gas development and the industry workforce,” said John Modine, API vice president of Global Industry Services in a conference call with reporters. “Our goal is to create a resource to help meet our nation’s ever-growing need for a workforce that can help us realize our energy potential for the future.”

A recent report by IHS predicts an additional 1.3 million new career opportunities in the oil and natural gas industry by 2030, and a 2013 Energy Information Administration study estimates that job growth has been 40 times higher in the oil and natural gas industry compared to the economy as a whole.

As North American Flaring Rises, Proposed Gas Conversion Projects Double

Source: RedOrbit | 16 June 2014

Planned projects to convert natural gas into fuels, intermediate chemicals, and fertilizers have doubled in just 12 months, according to presentations from the Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) North America conference held in Houston.

Energy researcher Zeus Intelligence, a unit of Hart Energy, surveyed 24 gas-conversion projects in the United States and Canada in 2013. This year, Zeus identified 47 projects. Four developed by Nucor, Oberon, Primus Energy, and Celanese are already producing hot-briquetted iron, dimethyl ether, gasoline, and methanol, respectively.

“Flaring is a symptom of a market ballooning with natural gas,” said Chris Cothran, lead gas-conversion analyst at Zeus Intelligence. “We’re seeing the benefits of cheap natural gas across many industries.

“Effective June 1, North Dakota’s Industrial Commission changed its regulations,” he noted. Now oil producers must submit plans to capture gas when filing permits for new oil wells. Due to limited takeaway infrastructure, roughly 270 MMcf of associated gas is flared daily in North Dakota, mostly from oil wells in the Bakken shale. Regulators want producers to fund more pipelines or process plants to convert gas into marketable products.

Flares already in operation are attracting greater scrutiny, too. On 1 July, North Dakota’s Industrial Commission is expected to announce new flaring rules. The state’s goal is to reduce flare gas from roughly 25% of total production to less than 10% by 2020.

“Gas-conversion technologists see an opportunity,” Cothran said. “Technologists are working to offer mobile solutions to convert gas at the wellhead into liquid products that can be shipped to market.” He said at least four joint ventures have been announced in recent weeks.

Texas Railroad Commission Holds Water Conservation and Recycling Symposium

Source: Oil and Gas Update | 28 May 2014

Water is a hot topic these days—drought, water rights, earthquakes, and saltwater disposal wells. On 22 May, the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) facilitated presentations by representatives from the oil and gas industry about water conservation and recycling—a hot topic for Commissioner Christi Craddick. Fifteen representatives from companies such as AES Water Solutions, Pioneer Natural Resources, Apache, Halliburton, Laredo Petroleum, Baker Hughes, and Omni Water Solutions relayed in 5 minutes or less each of their company’s water recycling goals, capabilities, and technologies. Each representative commended the RRC for having recently updated the agency’s water recycling rules last year to streamline the permitting of water recycling projects and to create more flexibility for multilease/multioperator recycling activities, thus making water recycling projects cost-effective and encouraging more reuse of produced water.

DNV GL Launches JIP To Standardize Subsea Documentation

Source: Offshore | 27 May 2014

DNV GL has launched a joint industry project (JIP) to standardize subsea documentation.

A typical subsea project can involve more than 10,000 documents (with up to 80,000 in a complex project) over a life cycle of 30 years. To develop, maintain, and verify the quality, security, accuracy, and availability of documentation, operators, contractors, and suppliers will often spend millions of dollars on document management, technical review, and information management systems.

“The aim of this broad industry collaboration initiated by DNV GL and the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association is to develop a standardized set of subsea-system documents for designing, approving, manufacturing, verifying, operating, and maintaining equipment,” explained Jarl S. Magnusson, the JIP project manager for DNV GL Oil & Gas.

De-Risking Gulf of Mexico Operations and Maintenance Practices

Source: 23 May 2014 | OE

Maintenance, like safety, is everyone’s business. Even a cursory examination of successful energy companies reveals a strong commitment to a maintenance and safety hierarchy that goes from employees in the field all the way to the executive offices. Strong safety and maintenance cultures go hand-in-hand because poorly maintained assets can be the root cause of accidents and collateral damage to personnel and assets.

Beginning at the field, platform deck, or plant floor level, a company’s skilled workers may perfom complete end-to-end maintenance, or management may outsource operations and maintenance activities to technical service providers. On the Gulf Coast, asset owners and operators routinely outsource advanced maintenance and repairs to technical service providers who specialize in one or more aspects of the maintenance “ladder” that extends from construction, hookup, and commissioning to operations, shutdowns, and turnarounds. Today, even relocation and decommissioning activities are handled by highly specialized firms with the skills, equipment, and processes in place to manage complex projects.

How Safety Leaders Can Start the Sustainability Discussion

Source: Behavioral Science Technology | 6 May 2014

Over the past 30 years, HSE leaders have guided their organizations through a remarkable transformation. What was once a practice focused largely on regulatory compliance and crisis response has evolved into a strategic function that now helps guide operational excellence. Today, many organizations not only enjoy record low injury rates and greater safety literacy across employees at every level, they also have learned to “bake” safety into work practices and systems and detect changes in risk before they create events in a way that protects the workforce and the community while also delivering greater profitability. At the highest levels, HSE leaders have become experts at change.

As business becomes more interconnected, global environmental and social issues will increasingly affect an organization’s ability to operate. Left unchecked, these issues can pose an existential threat to the enterprise unlike anything traditional management models have accounted for. Whether they recognize it or not, organizations are in need of expertise that can guide the development of sustainability practice and strategy. HSE leaders play a special role in guiding that discussion as they have done while helping to transform safety from a priority into a core value for many leading organizations.