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Refining Safety Theory

Source: Health & Safety Middle East

Traditional safety is sometimes called “hard hat safety.” Safety is all about looking professional, and, well, a hard hat says it all. While it’s obviously very fashionable, it’s also functional; there’s not much that’s going to get through that.

On the other hand, “process safety” is what we call safety when it’s applied to the special issues inherent in the large process industries. That means sectors such as chemical manufacturing, oil exploration, and refining. It’s aimed at robustly managing them in order to avoid a major incident.

In principle, process safety isn’t really saying anything different from traditional safety; it’s more a question of emphasis. That means paying more attention to some things that, in lower-risk workplaces, would probably make little impact. In a high-risk environment, however, neglect of several seemingly insignificant things can lead to disaster.


Built-in Bias Jeopardizes Project Success

Source: Oil and Gas Facilities

EMAS AMC installed 330 km of umbilicals and subsea equipment in Noble’s Tamar gas field, which is on schedule for first production in April.
Photo courtesy of EMAS AMC.

In spite of massive investments in project management best practices and the organizations to implement them, major oil and gas projects continue to experience painful cost overruns and schedule delays. Although there are many hypotheses as to why this is so, one root cause that has not been sufficiently explored is the built-in bias of owner and contractor organizations toward optimism and overconfidence. This article will explore the sources of this bias, and how techniques, such as using an outside view and improving the understanding of the drivers of risk exposure, can help correct it.



Study Finds 53% of Oil, Gas Workers Would Quit Over Training

Source: Rigzone

More than half of the oil and gas industry’s employees would consider leaving an employer because of a lack of training and development, according to a BP-sponsored study of 773 professionals who work in the sector across 24 countries.

Findings from the survey, which was conducted by the Society of Petroleum Engineers, found that 53 percent of respondents said a lack of training and development opportunities would lead them to consider leaving an employer. Seventy-five percent of respondents said that training and development was important in their choice of role, while 37 percent felt that a lack of training in previous roles has held them back in their career.


API Publishes New Industry Standards for Drilling Operations

Source: API

API Director of Standards David Miller announced on 1 April the publication of two new oil and natural gas industry standards for well design and drilling operations.

Deepwater Well Design and Construction, API Recommended Practice (RP) 96, provides engineers with a systemwide reference for offshore well design, drilling, and completion operations in deep water. It covers the range of considerations that must be taken into account when planning for and undertaking deepwater drilling.

Protocol for Verification and Validation of High-Pressure High-Temperature Equipment, API Technical Report 1PER15K-1, establishes a process for evaluating equipment used in high-pressure/high-temperature (HP/HT) environments both on and offshore. This new standard provides industry with a consistent approach to designing up-to-date drilling and completion equipment that is fit-for-service in deeper, HP/HT wells.


Water Management Technologies Used by Marcellus Shale Gas Producers

Source: Veil Environmental

Gas production in the Marcellus shale region is expanding rapidly. State agencies face new challenges in managing and regulating a growing number of wells. New policies and regulations continue to evolve (e.g., Pennsylvania’s May 2010 revisions to discharge regulations for oil and gas wastewater). A report prepared for the US Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory examines some of the available flowback and water management technologies and methods. Some of the conclusions that follow from the report include:

Unlike shale gas plays in arid states (e.g., the Barnett shale play in Texas), the Marcellus Shale occurs in a part of the country that generally has sufficient water supplies. Obtaining water for fracturing jobs, while necessitating coordination with various agencies has not yet proven to be a barrier. If the number of new shale gas wells continues to rise rapidly, water supplies could become a barrier.

The regulatory environment is contentious and evolving. Opponents of gas drilling, landowners hoping to gain substantial income from leasing mineral rights, gas companies, and politicians seeking jobs for their constituents will continue to debate how and where gas should be produced within the Marcellus region.


Water Management Practices Used by Fayetteville Shale Gas Producers

Source: Veil Environmental

Natural gas is an important energy source for the United States. Shale formations represent a growing source of natural gas for the nation and are among the busiest oil and gas plays in the country. As an indication of their importance, in less than one year’s time, the US Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration dramatically increased its estimate of the proportion of future domestic gas production that is likely to come from shale formations.

Water issues continue to play an important role in producing natural gas from shale formations. A report created by the Argonne National Laboratory examines water issues relating to shale gas production in the Fayetteville shale. In particular, the report focuses on how gas producers obtain water supplies used for drilling and hydraulically fracturing wells, how that water is transported to the well sites and stored, and how the wastewater from the wells (flowback and produced water) is managed.

New Multiphase Flow Laboratory Opens in Netherlands

Source: DNV KEMA

Overview of DNV KEMA’s new Multiphase Flow Laboratory.

DNV KEMA officially opened a new Multiphase Flow Laboratory (MPFL) in Groningen, Netherlands, on 15 March. The facility will allow equipment manufactures and oil and gas companies to test, validate, and calibrate multiphase technologies (e.g., separators and flow meters). Because the MPFL is operating in a true-to-life environment, the facility will help increasing the accuracy of future multiphase flowmeters and the efficiency of future multiphase separators. As a result, it is expected that the economical and operational risks of oil and gas fields can be better managed.

DNV KEMA has invested in the upgrade of the existing “wet gas” closed-loop facility to a full multiphase-flow test laboratory. It will be capable of recreating the kind of conditions equipment would face in the field. This includes a full range of multiphase-fluid compositions at realistic temperatures, pressures, and flow rates. It will also accelerate industry efforts to develop standards for equipment and testing protocols.

Ecologix System Recycles Water From Hydraulic Fracturing

Source: National Driller

Ecologix ITS fleet.

Ecologix Environmental Systems has introduced its Integrated Treatment System (ITS) , a water-management system that uses chemical treatment and a dissolved-air-floatation system to clean and recycle water for hydraulic fracturing. The company says that the ITS is so effective at cleaning the water that it not only reduces the environmental effect of fracturing but  also improves a well’s productivity by up to 40 percent.

In addition to improving well productivity, the ITS offers environmental benefits. It eliminates the need to source fresh water by recycling the water used for fracturing. It reduces road wear, noise, and traffic because it offers onsite or near-site mobile water treatment. And it eliminates the risk of spills or leaks of dirty water from disposal because the water is being treated and cleaned immediately.


Companies Team Up To Examine Responsible Arctic Development

Source: DNV

Arc-00009 (1)In a joint report prepared for the Offshore Northern Seas Conference in 2012, Det Norske Veritas and the Fridtjof Nansen Institute study crucial risk-management issues related to Arctic operations. Their report concluded that, in order to safely develop Arctic resources, there is a need for improved technology, oil spill preparedness, and close cooperation between the authorities, industry, and society.

The report tackles crucial questions, such as

• What are the distinctive features of the Arctic and what kind of risks emanate from them?

• What international framework exists for the regulation of economic activity?

• What type of management system is most relevant?

• How can companies manage risk in the region?



Fiber Optics Lead to Clearer Picture Downhole

Source: Fuel Fix

Drilling a profitable oil well is a speculative mixture of science and art, combining limited data with intuition and sheer chutzpah to guess at a well’s contents.

New fiber optic technology is removing some of that uncertainty, opening the door for well operators to have up-to-the-minute detailed data about such key metrics as proportions of oil and gas, temperature, pressure and possible presence of water. The new equipment can even transmit the gurgling sounds that a well produces.

“We want the laboratory down the hole, in situ, while we are drilling,” said Gregory Powers, vice president of technology for the oil field services giant Halliburton, who spoke to journalists Tuesday as the company highlighted its technology during an event at its Fiber Optic Center in Houston.

“At the end of the day, you want to know what is the material that is down there. What have I found? What have I just drilled through? And you want to know that with certainty.”

The Coming Capability Chasm

Source: Oil & Gas iQ

Since 2009, a number of high-profile offshore events have heightened the emphasis on health and safety practices in the energy industry.

Heightened global awareness of HSE through these high-profile incidents has filtered through and across the industry to the Middle East/North Africa region, where the majority of hydrocarbon exploitation is carried out onshore.

One of the main concerns with regards to HSE in the Middle East is an industry-endemic problem: that of capability.

The baby-boomer generation (1946-65) will be hanging up its hard hats and high-visibility jackets in the next few years, and, with their passing, a wealth of millions of accumulated man hours of experience will also be exiting the building.

More than most industries, the oil and gas industry has been aware of the need to mitigate the creeping reality of “The Great Crew Change,” and has instituted thorough companywide systems for knowledge management to retain the precious wisdom that only career-long savoir-faire can grant.

Faulty Bolts Halt Drilling at Gulf of Mexico Rigs

Source: Bloomberg

Deepwater oil exploration has been disrupted from the Gulf of Mexico to Brazil by the discovery of faulty bolts used in safety equipment, including blowout preventers.

The US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement issued an alert on 29 January to companies using equipment with the defective bolts from General Electric. The alert directed operators to suspend operations until the bad bolts can be replaced. In many instances, this means retrieving equipment from the seafloor.