Shale Plays Create Opportunities, Challenges for Automation

Source: Automation World | 23 April 2014

Crude oil production in North America continues to rise. 2013 saw an increase of 1 million B/D in the United States, and production this year is expected to hit close to 9 million B/D, according to John Royall, president and CEO of Gulf Publishing.

Royall, giving an opening presentation at the Siemens Oil & Gas Innovations Conference in Houston, gave an overview of the North American and worldwide oil and gas scene, also outlining various factors in the industry and how they affect automation opportunities.

For example, industry activity has traditionally been measured by the number of rigs, but, for the first time, analysts no longer think rig count is the most important thing to look at, Royall said. That’s because the rig count on average is going down, yet footage drilled is on the rise. “With higher-efficiency rigs, we’re drilling much more footage with fewer rigs,” he said. “We’ll reach close to 400 million ft drilled in 2014.”

Column: Shale Industry Can Benefit From Human Factors

Source: Shale Energy Insider | 9 April 2014

Shale production is a major player in the quest for energy independence. The merits of shale production are irrefutable, and the positive impacts are great. While the benefits are well known, like in other process control industries, there are those who promote fear through a lack of knowledge about this viable form of energy. When there is a lack of knowledge about a topic—whether it is energy production or any other meaningful concern—the stage may be set for undesired consequences.

Global Survey Sees Companies Increasing HSE Spending in 2014

Source: EHS Journal | 11 March 2014

More than 62% of corporations worldwide will increase spending on environmental management initiatives in 2014, and 31% will increase spending in the double-digits according to a new report released by independent analyst firm Verdantix.

The survey of 250 heads of environment, health, and safety (EHS) in 13 major economies found that just 3% plan to cut spending in 2014 compared to 2013, while 36% will hold spending in line with inflation. According to the survey data, spending on EHS information systems is set for a significant increase: 55% of the respondents plan to increase spending in this area; 24% are targeting double digit increases in 2014 compared to 2013.

David Metcalf, chief executive officer of Verdantix, said, “Spending on environmental issues such as air, soil, and water pollution, permitting, waste, water, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is in robust shape in 2014. Compared to spend on energy management and sustainability, the EHS market looks much more attractive. Particular hotspots for global environmental spending in 2014 will be EHS software, environmental reporting, auditing, and compliance. Product sustainability has also emerged as a priority theme for 2014.”

Column: Helping Business Leaders Talk About Sustainability

Source: EHS Journal | 3 March 2014

Some sustainability professionals are lucky. They work for chic executive offices (CEOs) who, for one reason or another, “get” sustainability. Their CEOs may have been exposed to sustainability issues by their customers, by their predecessors, or even by their grandchildren.

Most sustainability professionals don’t have that luxury. They have to make their case to a skeptical business audience. That audience often views sustainability as soft, sentimental, and suspect. That audience seems to want a business case for sustainability with short-term return-on-investment numbers.

Center for Offshore Safety Issues New Guidelines for SEMS Skills Verifications

Source: Lifeline Strategies | 5 February 2014

The Center for Offshore Safety just made public new guidelines to help the oil and gas industry prove that offshore workers know how to do their jobs safely. The Safety and Environmental Management System (SEMS) rules are very clear in saying oil and gas operators need to verify that all offshore personnel have the skills, knowledge, and experience to work safely and effectively. What has not been clear is how the industry is supposed to accomplish that.

It is a real problem, and many operators are trying to address it by requiring annual worker evaluations from contractors. But that leaves contractors wondering what kinds of evaluations will be acceptable and leaves operators without a good way to figure out if the evaluations have real meaning.

For the last year, the Center for Offshore Safety has been working on industry guidelines to help both operators and contractors. Those guidelines have now been approved and made public.


Study Points to Employees as Key to Industry Growth

Source: Rigzone | 31 January 2014

The theme for the energy industry in 2014 is global economic growth, and how the industry will accomplish this goal is through its talent. But this year in business will find it increasingly difficult to attract, retain and develop their talent. Skills gaps, rising costs, and tougher competition will define the energy industry’s barriers to growth this year, according to a report conducted by DNV GL.

A shortage of skilled professionals is a top worry for all regions, the report, Challenging Climates: The Outlook for the Oil and Gas Industry in 2014, noted, but especially in regions where manpower isn’t lacking but the necessary skills set is.

“This year, for the first time in more than 5 years, employees are in charge,” noted Josh Bersin, principle and founder of Bersin by Deloitte, in his predictions report. “High-performing employees will start to exert control. Top people with key skills (engineering, math, life sciences, and energy) will be in short supply.”

Produced-Water-Reinjection Design and Uncertainties Assessment

Source: JPT | 12 December 2013

Produced-water reinjection (PWRI) is an important strategy for deriving value from waste water, but its implementation can face challenges related to injectivity and safety issues. The first objective of a PWRI-design study is to supply water-quality specifications, and the second is to supply injection-pressure specifications. The objective of this paper is to detail how water quality and injection pressure are deduced when uncertainties of input data are considered.

Implementing a Process-Safety Program

Source: JPT | 12 December 2013

Between 2006 and 2009, Petronas Carigali embarked on a process-safety program driven by concerns over an increasing trend of process-related incidents. The program focused on defining explicit process-safety expectations and then putting in place the required processes to intensify implementation and mandatory compliance. Some 3–4 years into the program, tangible improvement can be felt across the organization.


Abnormal-Situation Management in Offshore Operations

Source: JPT | 12 December 2013

The Abnormal Situation Management (ASM) Consortium performed a root-cause analysis on 32 incident reports gathered from public documents and member companies. The analysis identified common failure categories and manifestations in these incidents. Consequently, the consortium completed three case studies on potential deployment solutions: one supporting better shift-handover communication, a second supporting better alarm-flood situations, and a third supporting better situation awareness by use of overview displays using qualitative gauges.

Column: Is the Oil and Gas Industry Serious About Asset Integrity?

Source: Oil and Gas iQ | 8 November 2013

In the wake of the Gulf of Mexico disaster, is BP and the rest of the industry genuine about wanting change? I firmly believe that the answer is yes, but another more important question remains unanswered. Are they likely to be successful in making that change? I am afraid that the answer to that question is no, not because of a deliberate disregard for integrity but because of a cultural inability to fully embrace what needs to be done.

The search for asset integrity is not new and is not unique to BP. Great progress was made in the decade after Piper Alpha, but in the late 1990s the focus shifted, even at operational level, from assuring integrity to assuring analysts that there was nothing that could remotely threaten growth and share price. Most worrying was that operators began to believe their own spin and manage assets on the assumption that everything in the garden really was rosy. Oil and gas production is a risky business and operations people know that the game is about assessing and managing risk. It is not helpful if the world has to believe that those risks just do not exist.

Texas City offered BP a unique opportunity to put things right, but Macondo points to the chance having been missed. Even after Deepwater Horizon, the approach, once again, seems to be a big hugely expensive, top down initiative which will take years to bear fruit, be unlikely to motivate staff, and may well prove ineffective.

Asset integrity relies on many people doing many things right. We all know about the importance of maintenance, engineering, inspection, data management, and the rest, but that is not the whole story. Things are often ignored or done incorrectly. Even when all the procedures are followed and everything is signed off, many problems remain. Often the only hope is that somebody spots these problems and does something. Increasing the level of audits etc. will not help because the problems still remain hidden from everyone except for those in the front line. The answer is to create an organization and culture that allows and encourages staff to manage the unforeseen problems. There is simply no other way to provide any increased level of assurance.