Safety
Reuters | 7 December 2016

Statoil Drops Airbus Super Puma Helicopters for Good

Norwegian state-controlled oil company Statoil will not resume using Airbus’s H225 Super Puma helicopters even if Norway’s Civil Aviation Authority decides to lift a ban imposed after a fatal crash off Norway in April, the company said on 6 December.

Spectators watch a Super Puma helicopter operating in a mock search and rescue operation during a show marking the Hellenic Air Force's Patron Saint celebration, on the southern suburb of Faliro, in Athens, Greece, 6 November 2016. Credit: Reuters/Alkis Konstantinidis.

Spectators watch a Super Puma helicopter operating in a mock search and rescue operation during a show marking the Hellenic Air Force’s Patron Saint celebration, on the southern suburb of Faliro, in Athens, Greece, 6 November 2016. Credit: Reuters/Alkis Konstantinidis.

Recent models of Super Puma, a workhorse of the offshore oil industry, were banned from commercial traffic in Norway and Britain following the accident that killed 13 oil workers flying from a Norwegian offshore oil platform operated by Statoil.

“We have no plans to use this helicopter ever again, even if the Norwegian authorities decide to lift the ban”, Statoil spokesman Morten Eek said.

“It doesn’t matter what the Aviation Authority says. We can specify the helicopter type we want to use, and we have already built up capacity with a different helicopter, the Sikorsky S-92,” he added.

The announcement comes after unions representing oil workers expressed concern about the H225 helicopter and asked for a permanent ban.

The helicopter that crashed in April was working for Statoil and operated by Canada-based group CHC Helicopter.

Norwegian investigators have said in preliminary findings a technical fault caused the Super Puma’s main rotor blades to spin away from the aircraft, killing everyone on board.

Drilling Contractor | 6 December 2016

BSEE, Industry Continue Efforts To Prevent Bolt, Connector Failures on Safety-Critical Subsea Equipment

Beginning with a safety alert issued in February, the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has continued to place increasing attention on subsea bolt and connector failures in safety-critical subsea equipment.

BSEE is aware of 10 incidents of bolt and connector failure in safety-critical subsea equipment, going as far back as 2003. Instances of bolt failure have involved H4 connector bolts in the lower marine riser package, hydraulic connector bolts, and blind shear ram actuators. The regulator is currently working with the industry to gather data to determine if additional incidents have occurred.

BSEE is aware of 10 incidents of bolt and connector failure in safety-critical subsea equipment, going as far back as 2003. Instances of bolt failure have involved H4 connector bolts in the lower marine riser package, hydraulic connector bolts, and blind shear ram actuators. The regulator is currently working with the industry to gather data to determine if additional incidents have occurred.

The regulator formed an Interagency Bolt Action team in July, then held a forum on 29 August in Washington, DC, dedicated to the issue. Through these and other investigative efforts, BSEE Director Brian Salerno said, the regulator hopes to gain a better understanding of the causes of bolt failures, how they might be related, and how they can be prevented.

“This is an issue that we have to understand and make sure that whatever corrective measures are identified are put in place,” Director Salerno said. “No one wants to run the risk of a catastrophic failure, and this is something we can get ahead of.”

Reuters | 30 November 2016

Norway To Investigate Oil Industry Safety After Accidents Rise

Norway will appoint a public commission to look into the safety of the country’s offshore oil and gas industry following a recent string of accidents, the government said on 29 November.

As falling oil prices force companies to cut spending, unions and Norway’s safety watchdog have warned cost cutting could affect safety.

“There have been several serious incidents in the last year. The Petroleum Safety Authority has also raised the question of whether security is at a crossroads,” Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Anniken Hauglie said in a statement.

Cost cuts and other efficiency measures must not be allowed to have a negative effect on safety, she added, echoing statements made by Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority.

“This trend (of rising number of incidents) has to be shifted now. We really need improvements in order to avoid new accidents, new injuries … ,” Petroleum Safety Authority chief Anne Myhrvold told an industry conference.

Business Wire | 23 November 2016

Total Safety Named Recipient of 2016 Texas Oil and Gas Awards Excellence in Health and Safety

Total Safety US, the world’s premier provider of industrial inspection and integrated safety solutions, was honored with the fourth annual Award for Excellence in Health and Safety—Operational in the 2016 Texas Oil and Gas Awards. Total Safety was recognized for implementing consistent safety practices at all locations.

“We are excited and honored by the recognition and especially the acknowledgement of this critical program led by our HSE Director Steve Long to extend the high standards of OSHA’s VPP STAR Program to all our in-plant service centers (IPSCs) that might not otherwise be eligible for the OSHA VPP Program,” said Total Safety’s president, Troy Thacker.

ProAct Safety | 10 November 2016

Column: Have Your Employees Outsourced Safety?

What are your employees responsible for regarding safety, and how do you hold them accountable? Is safety something they rely on the company or safety professional for, or are there specific actions they are held accountable for and hold each other accountable for on a regular basis? You can’t delegate or outsource safety if it is to become an individual or culturally shared value. For values to be created, specific behaviors must be observable on a consistent basis to make it so. What safety behaviors are observable by and of your employees?

What responses would you receive if you were to poll your workforce asking the following two questions? 1. What are your most important responsibilities to prevent injuries? 2. What are your most important responsibilities to contribute to our safety culture? Do you know the answers to these questions yourself? If the leaders don’t know what the answers should be, you can bet the followers won’t either.

Oilpro | 10 November 2016

Barking Up The Wrong Tree? TRIR vs. HROs

The oil and gas industry must begin to look beyond the worksite and its traditional focus on personal injury metrics and “Goal Zero” if it wants to build high-reliability organizations (HROs) for effective major-hazard-event (MHE) management.

Effective management of MHEs cannot simply be achieved by redirecting the action of a single work party, nor even introducing behavioral modification programs to target all worksite employees. No, effective MHE management is a companywide action. Starting at the highest level, the organization must galvanize itself around a single “line of sight” engaging and motivating all employees, at all levels, to become knowledgeable of the work they’re performing as it pertains to the prevention of catastrophic events. In essence, to become competent in defining and managing safety critical activities (i.e., those things necessary to support the availability and integrity of key barriers), all work must be progressed against the backdrop of an HRO.

Oil & Gas Financial Journal | 8 November 2016

In a Challenging Oil and Gas Market, Additional Investment Can Help Ease the Pressure

As oil and gas producers face heightened financial uncertainty and regulatory risk in a carbon-constrained world, they are actively looking for strategies to help them weather the market and adapt to a changing industry. Eliminating or postponing major capital projects, reducing expenses and personnel, and negotiating for higher prices have offered marginal relief while effectively reducing long-term production capacity.

Though it may sound contradictory to some, oil and gas companies can help shore up their businesses and reduce costs even further through greater investment in environmental, health and safety (EHS) management. The benefits of improved EHS management are well documented, and investors are actively seeking companies who have a demonstrated commitment to environmental sustainability. While an enterprise-wide overhaul of existing EHS management systems and procedures may be too resource-intensive in the current market, investing in more advanced EHS management software offers a quick and cost-effective solution that can be the catalyst for creating a safer, more sustainable business.

E&P | 4 November 2016

MPD Emerging as Preferred Drilling Method in Utica Shale

The prolific shale plays that span the US have been a game changer for the oil and gas industry, with technological advances and a decade of lessons learned creating more opportunities than ever to drill wells successfully.

However, these complex basins continue to present a host of drilling challenges, including uncertainty as it relates to pore pressure and fracture gradient, heterogeneous geology, narrow drilling windows, and pressurized fractures. Such characteristics increase the risk for gas kicks and losses, resulting in safety issues, high operational costs, and nonproductive time. To mitigate these hazards, operators are increasingly embracing drilling strategies that go beyond the limitations of conventional methods to provide the certainty they need to drill wells efficiently, economically, and safely.

Among the drilling techniques proving beneficial in shale plays is managed pressure drilling (MPD), a closed-loop drilling technique that enables the driller to monitor wellbore pressure profiles and rely on the system to automatically adjust surface backpressure as needed throughout the operation. The approach, which has been applied in land and offshore wells worldwide, is increasingly being adopted by operators to drill gas wells in the diverse Utica Shale, stretching across areas of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

Offshore Energy Today | 31 October 2016

Oil & Gas UK Issues New Guidelines for HP/HT Wells

Oil & Gas UK, a representative body for the UK offshore oil and gas industry, has issued new guidelines on wells with high-pressure/high-temperature (HP/HT) properties.

Mike Tholen

Mike Tholen

Oil & Gas UK said that the guidelines, published on 28 October, are a part of its commitment to continually review and improve the safety and performance of all aspects of well practices on the UK Continental Shelf.

Mike Tholen, upstream policy director at Oil & Gas UK, said, “Even in a mature basin, the high-temperature/high-pressure resource base remains an exciting opportunity.

“The Guidelines for HP/HT well design, operation, and maintenance published today have been developed by Oil & Gas UK’s Wells Forum to share industry knowledge and best practice for the benefit of both well operators and drilling contractors alike.”

Drilling Contractor | 31 October 2016

Maersk CEO Says Well Control Must Remain a Priority for the Industry, Regardless of Economic Landscape

Although the downturn is forcing drilling contractors to stack rigs and make necessary budget cuts, the industry must maintain well control competence as a top priority, Claus Hemmingsen, chief executive officer (CEO) of Maersk Drilling, said. Hemmingsen, who also serves as group vice CEO of A.P. Moller-Maersk, gave the keynote address at the 2016 International Association of Drilling Contractors Well Control Europe Conference in Copenhagen on 19 October.

Maersk Drilling CEO Claus Hemmingsen urged companies to share their knowledge and experience with one another in order to improve safety for everyone. Hemmingsen delivered the keynote speech at the 2016 IADC Well Control Europe Conference in Copenhagen on 19 October.

Maersk Drilling CEO Claus Hemmingsen urged companies to share their knowledge and experience with one another in order to improve safety for everyone. Hemmingsen delivered the keynote speech at the 2016 IADC Well Control Europe Conference in Copenhagen on 19 October.

“We must take any opportunity we can to learn from each other and take advantage of the broader industry performance, including the mistakes that we make, to ensure that we will not repeat those mistakes and expose people, environment and economic interest to accidents,” Hemmingsen said.

He warned that the industry will likely have to grapple with this downturn for at least another 18 to 24 months, even though oil prices have climbed higher from the USD 20s seen in the first quarter of this year.

“We are in for the extended downturn, and we better strap in and buckle up because it’s going to be a long and bumpy ride,” Hemmingsen said. At Maersk Drilling, four out of every 10 rigs in its fleet are idle. “We have had to adjust our oil business strategy to the new market reality,” he added. “Our market ambitions, our growth plans, and our revenue forecast strategies have all been radically modified to weather the storm and acclimate ourselves to the new normal. However, we have not and will not adapt our strategic goal of achieving and sustaining zero incidents.”

The Denver Post | 31 October 2016

Concerned About Hydraulic Fracturing Safety? Look at the Numbers

Even though domestic energy production has reached all-time highs, the industry’s safety record is improving. From 2003 to 2013, the onshore energy workforce doubled in size, and the number of drilling rigs increased by 71%. Between 2005 and 2014, meanwhile, the injury and illness rate for the US oil and natural gas industry fell 41%.

Glenn Rolbiecki works on a drilling crew at an Anadarko Petroleum site near Dacono, Colorado, on 19 May 2014. Oil and natural gas development has fewer fatal injuries than construction, transportation and warehousing, agriculture, forestry, government, manufacturing, and leisure and hospitality, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Credit: RJ Sangosti, Denver Post.

Glenn Rolbiecki works on a drilling crew at an Anadarko Petroleum site near Dacono, Colorado, on 19 May 2014. Oil and natural gas development has fewer fatal injuries than construction, transportation and warehousing, agriculture, forestry, government, manufacturing, and leisure and hospitality, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Credit: RJ Sangosti, Denver Post.

Do workers suffer injuries on the job? Of course they do. But compared to other industries, oil and gas companies are among the safest businesses to work for—despite the big rigs and heavy machinery involved in production. In 2014, the oil and gas sector averaged 2.1 injuries and illnesses for every 100 workers. That’s significantly lower than the national average of 3.2 per hundred.

The industry’s safety record is no accident. Consider the wide array of training and certification programs that energy employees complete. That process relies on a detailed curriculum that includes hands-on training with equipment and exams on critical safety information.

Of course, some reply, as the technologies employed by energy firms grow more sophisticated, safety measures can become obsolete or insufficient. This is certainly true, which is why the energy sector is constantly issuing new standards and upgrading existing ones.