Greasebook | 19 October 2016

Column: Hail Mary, Full of Grace, Blessed Is Your Hardhat … .

When my father was in Vietnam, he had the nose of his F-105 Thunderchief fighter jet blown off flying missions well into North Vietnam airspace. He looked down at his feet and saw open air underneath them. His survival and the ability to get that plane flown back to friendly territory, south of the Mekong River, was 100% dependent on his training.

Republic F-105D in flight with full bomb load. Credit: US Air Force.

Republic F-105D in flight with full bomb load. Credit: US Air Force.

And herein lies the message this week: We all have safety training and classes on how to perform maintenance and a host of other do’s and don’t’s every month. There’s even more if you happen to be a company pumper.

I swear, if I’ve heard lockout/tagout once, I’ve heard it 60,000 times. Wearing a hardhat is said so much that the phrase swims in my head. It even pops up when I’m saying the Rosary.

“Hail Mary, full of grace, blessed is your hardhat.” No, wait, that’s not how that goes.

And yet, how many of us climb a tank to gauge it while blabbing into our cell phones?

How many of us decide it’s too hot to wear our hard hats?

How many of us blow down a compressor and don’t allow enough time for the gas to clear before restarting the engine?

I have done this, and just a note here, so did a good friend of mine, and he blew himself up. He lived but was burned badly.

Here’s one you have probably never done: putting oil in a pumping unit without clutching the unit and putting the brake on. Yep, I’m guilty, too.

What I’m getting at is that there is a reason those things are said, said again, and said one more time by our company men and corporate leaders.

As I have aged, maybe because I’m more aware of my mortality, I take 30 seconds now before I do anything on my units and ask myself, “What could happen if I do this?”

It has saved my life.

DNV GL | 18 October 2016

DNV GL Seeks To Build Joint-Industry Project Around Safety Knowledge Sharing


DNV GL is inviting industry partners to join a joint-industry project (JIP) to identify and have access to updated trends based on a broad range of data, including failure mechanisms, root causes, materials, and equipment. The benefit for the industry will be a systematic approach to capturing and sharing lessons from past failures and for the JIP partners to exchange experiences.


A new laboratory at DNV GL’s Bergen, Norway, offices will aid a proposed knowledge-sharing joint-industry project. Credit: DNV GL.

The organization said it will call for an industry meeting in November 2016 to provide further information around the failure and root-cause analyses development program and the opportunities to join the JIP.

“DNV GL has conducted many of the major failure and root-cause analyses both on the Norwegian Continental Shelf and globally, including the forensic examination of Deepwater Horizon blowout preventer in 2011,” said Elisabeth Tørstad, chief executive officer for DNV GL Oil and Gas. “Our laboratories are key assets for DNV GL together with acknowledged experts within key disciplines for the oil and gas industry.

“Supporting our global laboratory network, the DNV GL technology center for materials, corrosions, coatings, offshore mooring, and lifting in Bergen has new laboratory premises with superior infrastructure so that our customers can have standard or tailored tests to suit their needs and get test results faster,” she said.

LinkedIn | 17 October 2016

Column: Russian Roulette, Process Style



For those unfamiliar with the term, Russian roulette refers to the loading of a revolver with a single round, spinning the chambers so that the position of the live round is unknown, and then placing the muzzle against your temple and pulling the trigger. With just six chambers, the classic version of the game is extremely risky, and, understandably, you would likely refuse to play. But what if there were a thousand chambers and you pulled the trigger just once a year; ready to play? Perhaps you already are with your process plant?

The playing of Russian roulette (process style) was recognized by Diane Vaughan, who, in her study of the Challenger space shuttle disaster, coined the phrase
“normalization of deviance.” The erosion of the O-rings that led to the disaster was a known occurrence, but NASA was lulled into a false sense of security because the observed erosion had never caused an actual failure. Familiarity, if not actually breeding contempt, had led to a discounting of the risk; the partial failure deviance became accepted as routine, it became normalized.

We must counter this normalization of deviance by maintaining a sense of vulnerability; near-miss recognition is key. Each near miss is a click as the hammer falls on an empty chamber. And, of course, just because your plant has never suffered a major accident in 30 years of operation does not mean that all the chambers are empty. If an occurrence rate is very low, it will likely lie outside our experience and our intuitive feel for the risk is likely to be correspondingly poor.

Unmanned Aerial | 6 October 2016

GE Working on New Drone for Oil and Gas Inspections

Providing what the company calls a present and future glimpse of promising new technologies for the oil and gas industry, General Electric (GE) on 5 October held the grand opening of its new Oil and Gas Technology Center in Oklahoma City, where the company revealed a peek at its smart-sensing drone prototype to detect emissions at oilfields.

At the opening ceremony, GE unveiled the prototype Raven drone, which has been engineered to detect emissions precisely and cost-effectively in order to help customers reduce environmental impact and improve operational efficiency in the oil and gas industry, according to the company.

GE says Southwestern Energy successfully piloted the technology to detect emissions from oilfield equipment at well sites in Arkansas in July.

In a video describing the new drone, John Westerheide, technology leader for the Oil and Gas Technology Center, said, “The goal of Raven is to help our customers inspect their upstream assets in a faster, better way.”

Ashraf El-Messidi, energy systems engineer at the new center, adds that the drone was designed to be used with a mobile app, where a user can draw a flight path “with the swipe of a finger” so that the aircraft can autonomously follow waypoints and conduct an inspection.

Westerheide added, “The benefit of programmable flight path capability allows us to enable anyone, regardless of background, to use advanced technology.”

Offshore Energy Today | 6 October 2016

Brunei Working To Ensure Safety of Oil and Gas Workforce, OPITO Says

Brunei has become the first country in the world to commission International Minimum Industry Standard Training (IMIST) in an attempt to ensure the safety of its 20,000-strong oil and gas industry workforce, according to OPITO.

Oil and gas skills organization OPITO said on 5 October that this follows the Bruneian government putting around 3,000 frontline worksite supervisors through the OPITO global standard for health and safety training earlier this year.

The organization also stated that the country has now set a deadline of November 2017 to roll IMIST out to people in this role.


Rigzone | 4 October 2016

Deepwater Horizon Movie Recounts Several Safety Missteps

In the 6 years since the Macondo well blew up the Transocean-owned Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 crew members, both the oil and gas industry and the government have pushed through a bevy of regulations designed to prevent such a disaster from ever happening again.

Deepwater Horizon movie recounts safety missteps onboard the offshore rig, which set the stage for several reforms.

The Deepwater Horizon movie recounts safety missteps on the offshore rig, which set the stage for several reforms.

The federal government introduced a range of new regulations, including those focused on safety, potential conflicts of interest, and equipment. While the feds worked through the bureaucracy, the industry acted to increase coordinating between rigs and onshore support, as well as equipment and personnel checks and balances.

For its part, well owner BP has spent billions of dollars in clean-up and settlement costs to coastal states, businesses, and individuals. In September, the Alabama legislature weighed how best to allocate its USD 1 billion settlement fund, and Mississippi will have USD 2.2 billion to spend on state services.

Meanwhile, the federal government and its offshore drilling program in the Gulf of Mexico is moving forward. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has announced a sale in New Orleans in March to offer roughly 47 million acres offshore Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama for exploration. It will be the twelfth such bidding process. The previous 11 sales have netted more than USD 3 billion in offshore exploration and production (E&P) investment.

Offshore Energy Today | 29 September 2016

DNV GL Puts Out New Air Gap Guidelines After COSLInnovator Accident

Following a fatal accident involving the COSLInnovator rig on 30 December 2015, some 100 semisubmersible rigs approved by DNV GL will be reviewed.

DNV GL puts out new air gap guidelines after COSLInnovator accident.

DNV GL puts out new air gap guidelines after COSLInnovator accident.

According to DNV GL, a classification body that certifies semisubmersible rigs, preliminary assessments indicate that a limited number of rigs will be subjected to modifications or operational limitations.

The semisubmersible rig COSLInnovator was drilling for Statoil in the Troll field when it was hit by a large, steep wave. Several windows on the rig’s two lower decks were shattered, and one person was killed.

“Since the incident, we have made great efforts to identify what happened, understand how this could happen, and, most importantly, implement actions to prevent similar incidents from occurring again,” said Ernst Meyer, DNV GL director for offshore classification. “We have been working with rig owners, designers, operators, and authorities towards a common goal: to ensure the safety of all those working on board the rigs.”

Rigzone | 23 September 2016

Statoil Plans To Improve Helicopter Safety Following Fatal Crash

Statoil has vowed to improve helicopter safety following the release of an investigation into a fatal helicopter crash, which occurred 18 April as the vehicle was carrying 13 workers from the Gullfaks B oil platform to the Bergen airport on the west coast of Norway.

Statoil has vowed to improve helicopter safety following the release of an investigation into a fatal helicopter crash that occurred on the Norwegian continental shelf earlier this year. Credit: Rigzone.

Statoil has vowed to improve helicopter safety following the release of an investigation into a fatal helicopter crash that occurred on the Norwegian continental shelf earlier this year. Credit: Rigzone.

In May, Statoil decided to conduct an in-house investigation to identify measures to improve Statoil’s helicopter safety work on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) and to learn from the emergency response to the accident.

The investigation concluded that Statoil’s helicopter safety work on the NCS is good but stressed that the industry’s efficiency improvement efforts and increased focus on costs must not compromise safety. Statoil also emphasized that a possible introduction in Norway of common European safety requirements could change the risk picture associated with helicopter operations.

“We will follow up on the recommendations given by the investigation to enhance Statoil’s helicopter safety and emergency response,” said Statoil Chief Operating Officer Anders Opedal.

“Our clear ambition is to maintain our leading role in further developing and enhancing the existing helicopter safety standard. The report provides a good basis for ensuring an optimal organization and holistic approach to this,” he added.

ProAct Safety | 15 September 2016

Column: Quit Preventing Accidents and Start Creating Value

If you charged a membership fee to participate in your safety programs, how many of your workers would voluntarily pay? The answer to this question is a glimpse into the perceived value of your safety efforts. All too many safety programs view the worker as the problem that must be controlled. They try to control workers through imposing rules and procedures, modifying their behavior, dictating the formation of their safety culture, and attempting to get them engaged. What if, on the other hand, we viewed the workers as the customers of safety and tried to add value to their efforts by providing resources and programs that met or exceeded their safety needs?

Rigzone | 12 September 2016

Offshore Norway Rigs Could Require Safety Modifications

Floating oil and gas rigs offshore Norway could require safety modifications following a fatal incident on the Norwegian Continental Shelf in December last year, according to DNV GL.

Floating oil and gas rigs offshore Norway could require safety modifications following a fatal incident on the Norwegian Continental Shelf in December last year, according to DNV GL. Credit: Rigzone.

One person was killed and four injured when the COSLInnovator was struck by a wave on 30 December, damaging its living quarters in the process. The wave struck the unit on the port side of the front bulkhead of the forward box girder and smashed 17 windows, the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway reported earlier this year.

In order to prevent similar incidents occurring in the future, several companies, including DNV GL, teamed up to find out exactly what happened during the event, what improvements are needed, and how to implement these improvements.

So far, issues have been raised surrounding air gaps, which comprise the distance between the underside of a rig’s lowest deck and the highest wave crest. Certain rigs that classify as having a negative air gap could be made to undergo some changes.

Hydrocarbon Processing | 7 September 2016

Review of the Chemical Safety Board Report on the 2010 Tesoro Refinery Fire

On 2 April 2010, a catastrophic fire occurred within the naphtha hydrotreating unit in the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, Washington. An internal investigation by Tesoro personnel was issued on 21 July 2011. The US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) released a draft report for public comments in January 2014. The final CSB report, including recommendations, was issued in May 2014, more than 4 years after the incident that resulted in the tragic loss of seven lives.

The resulting CSB recommendations will improve industry safety performance only if the true root causes of the incident are discovered and if appropriate recommendations are developed and implemented by other sites. This work critically reviews the CSB analysis of this incident and several of its resulting recommendations. The review is based on information contained in the CSB report and backup information available on the CSB website; the online text of the Tesoro internal incident investigation report; and the author’s 40-plus years of experience in the petroleum refining industry, including extensive research and development and troubleshooting experience in various aspects of hydroprocessing.

As detailed in both the Tesoro and CSB reports, the immediate cause of the fire was a catastrophic rupture of the shell of one of six feed effluent heat exchangers in the naphtha hydrotreating unit. The rupture released a combustible vapor cloud that autoignited. Subsequent analyses revealed that the shell had been weakened by high-temperature hydrogen attack (HTHA), a damage mechanism well-known to the industry. API Recommended Practice 941 (RP941) provides guidance in material selection to minimize the potential for HTHA. These recommendations are based on experimental studies of materials under simulated laboratory conditions and industry reports of material damage under actual operating conditions.

Based on heat exchanger model simulations, the CSB report concluded that the regions of damage within the heat exchanger shell generally operated at conditions that should not have been susceptible to HTHA, according to API RP941. The CSB report recommended alterations to the material selection criteria included in API RP941, commonly referred to as the Nelson curve. The CSB report also recommended increased industry regulatory oversight, including changes to the process hazard analysis (PHA) system. Several critical deficiencies in the CSB report that led to erroneous conclusions and recommendations are highlighted here.

Rigzone | 31 August 2016

Upstream Oil, Gas Companies Keep Exploring Benefits of UAVs

Exxon Mobil Corp.’s recent use of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), to help monitor the effect of their offshore operations on whales is one example of how upstream oil and gas companies are continuing to explore the potential that drones hold for upstream operations.

Drones have been used to inspect infrastructure at heights, keeping workers out of harm’s way. Source: Cyberhawk Innovations.

In March, ExxonMobil conducted a 2-week research program offshore Santa Barbara, California, in which it utilized UAVs with shore-based cameras and satellites to scout for whales. By testing these advanced remote detection technologies, ExxonMobil aims to improve upon current detection systems for identifying marine mammals, company spokesperson Ashley Smith Alemayehu said.

Oil and gas companies have been using drones for nearly 6 years now, embracing the health and safety advantages of drones vs. traditional inspection methods, Philip Buchan, commercial director at UK-based Cyberhawk Innovations Limited, said.