Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement | 27 July 2016

BSEE Director Reaches Out to Federal Agency Partners To Help Address Failures in Safety Equipment

In another step to address a critical safety concern involving the failure of subsea bolts offshore, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Director Brian Salerno is forming an interagency group to focus on the subsea bolt issue and the risks it poses to offshore operations. Director Salerno is calling upon federal partners to work on this critical safety issue as part of BSEE’s Interagency Bolt Action Team.

“The failure of bolts in subsea oil and gas operations presents a major risk for offshore workers and the environment,” Salerno said. “I have challenged offshore operators, drilling companies, manufacturers, and industry organizations to be more proactive in addressing this safety issue, and it makes sense to bring our federal counterparts into this important effort.”

Federal team members including subject-matter experts and regulators from bolts-related industries will work together to identify root causes of the bolt/connector failures, review industry standards, and develop solutions for future safe use of bolts and connectors.

“By engaging with subject-matter experts and individuals with knowledge of materials science and metallurgical shearing and corrosion, the team will be the first cross-agency group to address the causes and solutions to the bolt problem,” Salerno said.

Offshore Energy Today | 25 July 2016

Safety Watchdog Spots Irregularities During Teekay FPSO Audit

Norwegian offshore safety body the Petroleum Safety Authority has found several irregularities and improvement points during an audit of Teekaya floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) vessel operator in the North Sea.

Teekay’s Petrojarl Knarr FPSO.

PSA’s audit, conducted aboard the Petrojarl Knarr FPSO, focused on overall barrier management, examining the interactions between operational, organizational, and technical barrier elements.

The safety body said on 22 July that the objective of the audit was to monitor regulatory compliance concerning barriers and to verify that technical, operational, and organizational barrier elements have been maintained in an integrated and consistent manner to minimize the risk of major accidents to the greatest extent possible.

Offshore Energy Today | 26 July 2016

Safety Probe Finds Improvement Points on Heimdal

Norwegian offshore safety watchdog, the Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA), has identified several improvement points during an audit of Statoil and Gassco. No nonconformities were found.

Heimdal platform. Photo courtesy of Statoil.

PSA said on 21 July that the audit was conducted on 9 and 10 June and that the revealed improvement points were related to the condition of the main support structures at Heimdal offshore gas field.

The organization added that the objective of the audit was to see how Statoil and Gassco maintain the integrity of the main support structures of an operational facility.

No nonconformities were identified during the audit while the improvement points found regarded document archiving and correlations between analyses and load-bearing structures and maritime systems.

Rigzone | 25 July 2016

Column: Leading Procedural Compliance with a Checklist Culture

As the oilfield nears the “great crew change” and goes through one of the more transformative periods in a generation, it is clear that industry leaders will have to make smart and strategic choices. Modern drilling rigs and hydraulic fracturing have contributed to an increase in efficiencies from a technological and engineering standpoint.


However, the human component of rig or fracturing crews has not seen concomitant gains. Operational paradigms of the past no longer suit the cost-constrained world of today or the foreseeable future. Significant gains in human efficiencies in the oil patch must also be realized while equally addressing the external environmental pressures and occupational/process safety concerns further raised by an influx of inexperienced workers.

For many, that’s the rub. Can gains be made in efficiencies on the drilling rig or with the fracturing crew without sacrificing safety? For far too long the belief has been that there is a tradeoff between safety and efficiency, or “I need better processes to be more efficient,” or experience is the most effective tool for operational efficiency. If you are asking yourself, “What processes or experience can I use to go faster (to be more efficient) without sacrificing safety?” then I would argue you are that you are not only asking the wrong question but that you also are approaching the topic with a flawed mindset. The better question to ask is, “What system of operations can I put into place that will dramatically improve both efficiency and safety?”

Rigzone | 19 July 2016

Safety Investment Remains Resilient Despite Downturn

Oil and gas companies are continuing to invest in safety research despite the current oil price downturn, DNV GL representatives said.


“Business is tough in the oil and gas sector, but committed customers are still investing in safety improvement. They’re still conducting research into major hazards,” said Gary Tomlin, DNV GL UK’s vice president of safety and risk.

Naturally, the level of this investment was slightly hampered by the drop in crude prices, but investment has started to increase over the last couple of months.

“We saw a hiccup and, to be honest, it’s inevitable. When the oil price drops from USD 110 a barrel to USD 27, you’re kidding yourself if you’re not going to see a hiccup,” said Hari Vamadevan, DNV GL Oil & Gas’ regional manager for the UK and West Africa.


“We’ve seen a pickup I would say over the last couple of months … oil recovery to USD 50 has helped a little bit, I think there’s positive cash flows for some companies, but many companies haven’t stopped [investing],” he added.

Investment in this type of research is expected to rise even further over the not too distant future, as the oil price achieves an anticipated rise and oil and gas firms gain more access to expendable income.

“From an industry perspective we think … we’ll see an upturn 2017–2018,” Tomlin said. “I think that we’ve plateaued. We are a cyclical oil and gas industry … I think we’ve hit the low point, but we do need to be aware that we still need to control costs,” Vamadevan said. “I think companies will become profitable at USD 50 and USD 60 per barrel, and, as the price rises, I think there will be more investment. So I am hopeful that we will see more activity going forward,” he added.

Offshore Energy Today | 12 July 2016

Nigeria’s Oil and Gas Industry “Ready for a New Era in Safety”

Nigerian government officials and representatives from the country’s oil and gas sector have joined forces in Lagos on OPITO’s 1-day seminar to discuss how to make the country’s energy sector a safer place to work.

Shell’s Bonga floating production, storage, and offloading vessel offshore Nigeria.

Over 70 attendees heard from speakers including Onyebuchi Sibeudu, head of safety and environment at the Nigerian government’s Department of Petroleum Resources; Mohammed Dewu from the Petroleum Technology Development Fund; Musa Rabiu from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company; and Amadi Amadi, S & E technical manager, Shell Nigeria.

Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer and employs around 12.5% of the region’s labor pool. OPITO, an international oil and gas skills organization whose safety training is taken by 250,000 people every year, was approached by the Nigerian government and oil and gas producers with the aim to improve the skills of local workers and develop the technical competence needed to carry out their roles safely.

OPITO’s group chief executive David Doig said: “There is an increasing awareness in Nigeria of the value in ensuring the competency of the offshore workforce and the benefits of improving the levels of safety for each individual.”

He added that there are three training providers in Nigeria approved to deliver OPITO’s standards while another seven companies signed up for the workshop showing a commitment to adopt OPITO standards.

“This interest coupled with that of the government and international firms operating in the region sees Nigeria’s oil and gas industry ready for a new era in safety and competency,” Doig said.

ProAct Safety | 12 July 2016

Column: Special vs. Common Causation

W. Edwards Deming, one of the fathers of manufacturing quality control, explained the difference between special causes and common causes. He was speaking of the causes of defects in manufacturing processes. He explained that sometimes someone does something obviously wrong, a machine malfunctions or raw material has an obvious flaw. When such an event causes a defect in manufacturing, that defect has a special cause. However, sometimes everyone performs normally, machines function as usual, raw materials meet specs, and still a defect happens. Such defects, according to Deming, have common causes. In other words, the cause of the defect is common to the process. It is built in and does not require outside intervention to make it happen. According to Deming, such defects may not happen frequently, and often may not be accurately assessed or diagnosed.

Think how this dichotomy applies to safety. An accidental workplace injury, just like a manufacturing defect, is an undesired and unplanned outcome of a process. Work processes are designed to produce products or services, not defects or injuries. The causes of workplace injuries can fall into the same two categories as the causes of manufacturing process defects. A worker can do something wrong, a machine can malfunction, or irregular events of other kinds can happen. When these things result in accidental injuries, such injuries could be said to have special cause. However, when organizations investigate accidents and fail to find irregular conditions or behaviors as root causes, they do not always consider the alternatives. It is at this level of investigation that Deming’s observations can help improve safety.

United Safety | 22 June 2016

Export Development Canada Recognizes United Safety’s Mission To Protect Workers Worldwide

In February 2016, Export Development Canada (EDC), the state-owned export credit agency provided CAD 750 million in emergency loans to small and medium-sized oil and gas companies in a bid to help the industry survive the current downturn.

By demonstrating a solid survival plan for the next 2 years, United Safety is one of the firms that EDC is supporting. The company has been at the forefront of bringing Canadian expertise in the field of health and safety by taking its innovations and value-added services to 13 oil and gas producing countries spread across the Americas, Asia, and Africa.

“We supply goods and services to major energy-producing companies around the world by providing industrial safety equipment, safety consulting and safety training for oil fields, refineries, gas plants, and power-generation facilities to ensure that the workforces and the public remain safe,” said Lee Whittaker, United Safety’s CEO, who founded the company in 1987.

Today, according to EDC, Canada’s oil and gas sector contributes an average of CAD 17 billion to government coffers yearly and employs approximately 500,000 through direct and indirect jobs. Leveraging on their years of experience in Canada’s oil patch, some enterprising Canadian companies, such as United Safety have gained significant success in international markets.

Offshore Energy Today | 16 June 2016

PSA Spots Safety Breaches on Statoil’s Sleipner Complex

Norway’s offshore safety watchdog, the Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA), has identified several safety breaches during an audit of Statoil’s Sleipner complex, offshore Norway.

The Sleipner complex. Photo courtesy of Statoil.

PSA said on 16 June that the audit, done 1–8 April, aimed to verify that Statoil’s management and follow-up of barriers complied with the company’s and the authorities’ requirements.

According to the safety agency, this entails knowing which barriers have been established and which function they are to fulfill, as well as performance requirements defined for specific technical, operational, or organizational barrier elements necessary for rendering the individual barrier effective.

The organization added that the monitoring of Statoil is systematical at all levels and its goal is to prevent any major accidents.

During the audit, a nonconformity was identified relating to the emergency shutdown system while improvement points were identified regarding risk reduction, decision support and decision-making criteria, risk identification, and uncertainty in risk analyses.

Statoil has been given a deadline of 22 June by the PSA to report on how the nonconformity and improvement points will be dealt with.

The Associated Press | 17 June 2016

Oregon Officials Want a Hold on Oil Trains After Derailment

The fiery derailment of an oil train in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge has state transportation officials asking for a halt to the massive trains because of concerns their heavier weight could be putting extra strain on a certain type of bolt that fastens the rails to the tracks.

In this 3 June 2016 file photo provided by Silas Bleakley, tank cars, carrying oil, are derailed near Mosier, Oregon. Credit: AP.

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) discussed its concerns about the safety of the so-called “lag bolts” in a presentation Thursday to the Oregon Transportation Commission and made public a letter it mailed to the Federal Railroad Administration on 8 June asking for the moratorium.

Union Pacific, which operated the train, has said the 3 June derailment was caused by a failure of the bolts, fasteners that are used to attach the rail to the rail tie on a curved section of track. The accident forced evacuations in the tiny town of Mosier, about 70 miles east of Portland, and spilled 42,000 gal of oil into the Columbia River. No one was injured.

In a presentation to commission members, ODOT administrator Hal Gard said the lag bolts found at the scene were rusted on both ends, indicating they had been sheared off before the derailment. State officials showed a photo of a pile of lag bolts collected at the site.

This June 2016 photo provided by the Oregon Department of Transportation shows train rail lag bolts collected at the site of a fiery train derailment 3 June 2016 in Mosier, Oregon. Credit: Oregon Department of Transportation via AP

Trains that carry only crude oil began running in that section of the Columbia River Gorge in 2014, and state investigators are concerned that the heavier weight and shorter length of those trains might be causing the lag bolts to break. The trains’ weight is spread out over a shorter distance, increasing the pressure on the tracks.

Without the fasteners anchoring the rails to the rail ties, the parallel rails can be pushed further apart, causing a derailment, said Tom Fuller, ODOT’s director of communications. The sloshing of the liquid oil inside the tankers might also mean additional stress as the train’s contents shifts on curves, he added.

“The liquid is heavier and the weight is even more concentrated because there’s a shorter distance between the wheels, and that’s what allowed one of the cars to literally come off the rails and then it pulled the other cars with it,” he said.

The lag bolt system was installed on the Columbia River Gorge route in 2001, Gard said, and the rails at the location were replaced in 2013.

Tests conducted by both Union Pacific and ODOT for flaws in the tracks didn’t turn up the faulty bolts, Fuller said.

“Our concern right now is, if Union Pacific or ODOT weren’t able to determine that these bolts were broken, how do we know there aren’t more of these bolts broken in other places?” he said. “Where else are these bolts installed? Where else might this exist … just waiting to have a derailment?”

EHS Today | 16 June 2016

Column: Growing a Safety Culture From the Middle Out


Most safety culture improvement initiatives either start at the top or the bottom of the organizational structure, with executive coaching for senior managers or work force teambuilding for the rank and file. Some experts believe that safety begins with leadership; others stress that worker behavior has the most impact on safety. Both approaches can achieve improvement. However, there are organizations with good reasons to delay these approaches and start safety improvement in the middle.

A recent client discovered in an assessment of its safety culture that managers did not realize the impact of poor safety performance on the organization. As a result, the client wanted to begin efforts by training managers. This organization is a division of a larger entity, which had absorbed the costs of safety into the corporate structure and insulated the division managers from the economic realities. However, after further analysis, it became evident that the managers had almost no direct contact with the levels of the organization where safety issues existed. Just as the managers were insulated from safety realities, the safety realities were equally insulated from the managers.

The next thought was to begin with the rank and file, and yet another barrier was identified. The work force of this division was a diverse group with multiple backgrounds and languages that would require significant work to form into teams. Moreover, the attrition rate was averaging 35% over a 4-year period. The existing culture was heavily dependent on the first-line supervisors to train employees and to direct daily operations. The supervisors had received virtually no training when promoted from the work force in either supervision skills or in safety. The evidence indicated that working first with supervisors might be our best transformational opportunity.

Offshore Energy Today | 15 June 2016

APPEA’s Safety Excellence Award Goes to Santos

The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) has presented the Safety Excellence Award to the independent energy company Santos.

Photo courtesy of Santos.

APPEA said on 8 June that the award recognizes responsible management of risk based on sound science; application of new systems and technologies; and constructive engagement with the workforce, project partners, government, and the wider industry in enhancing workplace health and safety.

APPEA board member and Buru Energy executive chairman Eric Streitberg announced the award on 7 June at APPEA 2016 Conference Dinner in Brisbane.

Streitberg said, “Santos maintains that no business objective will take priority over safety and no task is so important or urgent that it cannot be done safely.

“Santos has enhanced its tracking and measurement of safety culture and critical controls management, enabling it to systematically and effectively minimize risks.”