HSE NOW articles are available to SPE members.
Login Now
Safety

Oil & Gas UK Releases Annual Health and Safety Report

Source: Oil & Gas UK | 20 June 2014

Oil & Gas UK published its annual Health & Safety report on 19 June. As in previous years, the report sets out a summary of industry health and safety performance across a range of indicators and describes many of the issues and activities influencing that performance.

Industry health and safety performance during the last year presents a mixed picture; while progress has been made across certain areas, some safety indicators have deteriorated compared with the previous year.

The report confirmed that there has been a 49% reduction in the number of reportable hydrocarbon releases over 3 years to the end of March 2013—narrowly missing the 50% industry target. Despite the decrease in the number of major and significant releases continuing a welcome 5-year downward trend, the remainder of 2013 saw an overall increase in total number of releases. There was also a slight increase in the frequency of reportable injuries and dangerous occurrences, reversing the trend of improvement in previous years.

“Despite the ongoing and encouraging decrease in major and significant releases over the last year, the industry is not yet where it needs to be,” said Robert Paterson, Oil & Gas UK’s health and safety director. “Industry, working closely with the regulators and the workforce through Step Change and other bodies, is refocusing attention on preventative strategies and programs to maintain and enhance momentum in this crucial area.”

Column: Speaking Up When You See Something Unsafe Offshore

Source: BSEE | 19 June 2014

The tragic loss of life and environmental catastrophe that followed the blowout in 2010 at the Macondo well brought into focus the importance of empowering offshore workers to raise concerns regarding potential unsafe operations or violations of law. It is critical that offshore operators and contractors create a safety culture that empowers and encourages workers to speak up when they see potential problems.

A good example of how to handle worker complaints about unsafe operations came, in the aftermath of the Macondo disaster, from an unlikely source—a company that recently pled guilty to violations that occurred during offshore operations. That company, Helmerich & Payne (H&P), is a contractor that provides drilling services on platforms operating in the Gulf of Mexico. In May 2010, an H&P worker on a platform located in Mississippi Canyon (the same lease area where the Macondo well is located) reported the falsification of certain documents reflecting the results of pressure testing of the blowout preventer system to his superiors within the company.

H&P’s management, within 24 hours of the complaint, informed the operator of the platform about the allegations; and, after discerning the validity of the complaint, the operator and H&P reported the violations to the Mineral Management Service (the predecessor agency to BSEE).

 

Column: Seven Ways To Improve Workplace Safety Without Going Broke

Source: Entrepreneur | 19 June 2014

Safety isn’t always foremost in the minds of entrepreneurs or small-business owners. For some, a severe injury to a worker is a very remote possibility and hardly worth worrying about. Still others believe there is no way to get the job done safely without spending heaps of money that they just don’t have. Yet small businesses sometimes discover the hard way that it doesn’t take many injuries to put a company in real financial peril.

The belief that a business must choose between workplace safety and making a profit is a very old and deeply held mindset. Unfortunately it’s usually just plain wrong. Here are seven approaches that any business owner can adopt to reduce the risk of worker injuries without adding prohibitive cost.

UK Safety Award Recognizes Five Consecutive Gold Awards, 9 Years Without a Lost-Time Incident

Source: 16 June 2014

Conductor Installation Services (CIS), an Acteon company that provides hammer services to install conductors and drive piles, has been awarded the prestigious Gold Medal for Occupational Health and Safety from the UK’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).

The prize is only awarded to those organizations that have received a Gold Award for Occupational Health and Safety for 5 consecutive years, which CIS achieved this year. Once again, CIS completed another year of operation without a lost-time incident (LTI).

Working Safe Paves Path to Success
Since opening its doors in 2005, CIS has made safety a top priority, investing in training in safe practices that has made it possible for the company to achieve a great deal without compromising quality or putting others at risk, the company said.

“CIS has installed conductors for us in a wide range of environments, from tropical waters offshore Colombia, Malaysia and Qatar, to the frigid Caspian Sea. Regardless of the environment, CIS brings with it a commitment to safety,” said Anthony Papalia, regional business unit manager for Weatherford. “While working with CIS for the past 9 years, we have had zero recordable safety issues and incidents. In collaboration with CIS, we are able to meet our HSE standards of excellence at Weatherford,” he added.

The RoSPA Awards criteria takes into consideration not only accident records, but also the entrant’s overall health and safety management systems, recognizing important practices such as strong leadership and workforce involvement.

Highest Safety Accolade in UK
“Working in the oil and gas industry is unlike any other. Yes, it is highly rewarding, but carries with it predictable risks. Whether working onshore or offshore, these risks must be addressed each and every day, which is why commitment to safety is an essential part of the CIS working experience,” said Andy Penman, group managing director of the CIS Group. “Receiving the Gold Medal, the UK’s highest safety accolade, means that our people are choosing to work safely, with great care and vigilance. They recognize that operating year after year without a single LTI would not be possible without their dedication, so I am deeply grateful to them,” he added.

In recognition of this outstanding achievement, Andy Penman, group managing director of CIS, was presented the award by Michael Parker, RoSPA vice chairman, at the RoSPA Occupational Health & Safety Awards Ceremony in Birmingham, England.

CIS, a member of Acteon’s Conductors, Risers, and Flowlines group, provides conductor and pile installation services associated with construction projects carried out in the global oil and gas industry. These services are carried out both onshore and offshore to, for example, create foundations for new wells, platforms, bridges, and jetties.

The range of services provided by CIS supports the Acteon Group’s commitment to defining subsea services across a range of interconnected disciplines.

EIA Expects Oil, Gas Disruptions From Hurricanes

Source: UPI | 16 June 2014

Oil and natural gas disruptions from hurricane activity in the Gulf of Mexico may be much higher than last year, the U.S. Energy Department said Thursday.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA), the statistical arm of the Energy Department, said its mean estimate is that 12 million bbl of crude oil and 30 Bcf of natural gas could be forced offline during the current hurricane season. That would be three and four times higher than 2013, respectively, if forecasts are accurate.

EIA said its estimates are “highly uncertain” given the difficulty in predicting the intensity of storms in the Atlantic.

Buckled Pipe at Core of Macondo Event, Says US Chemical Safety Board

Source: Offshore | 16 June 2014

A draft assessment of the Macondo blowout by the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) concludes that the blowout preventer (BOP) failed to seal the well because the drillpipe buckled.

The buckled pipe moved off center within the BOP, which precluded the successful ram function, earlier in the timeline than previously estimated. The CSB also concludes that the BOP’s blind shear ram did activate the night of the accident, days earlier than estimated in other assessments. The report says that “effective compression” of the drillpipe caused the ram to puncture the off-center pipe.

“Our investigation has produced several important findings that were not identified in earlier examinations of the blowout preventer failure,” said CSB Investigator Cheryl MacKenzie, who led the investigative team.

Column: Who Says Go? Is Safety Led or Abdicated?

Source: ProAct Safety | 27 May 2014

Over the past several decades, business has decentralized many specialty roles; leadership is not one of them. In most organizations, one person or small group sets the tone and establishes the priorities and values for the business. If these recognized leaders also lead safety, it becomes an organizational value. If they delegate safety to someone else, it sends an unmistakable message to the organization. Safety can still be viewed as important, but it is not in the organizational mainstream. The message is, “Let’s run our business and, by the way, let’s be safe too.”

This message accurately reflects the mindset of many leaders who view safety as a thorn in the side of their true mission. Many organizational leaders came up through the ranks and once were specialists themselves. They were financial, technical, or sales people. These leaders tend to slant the organizational priorities toward their own specialty while learning to manage other organizational realities. Very few are specifically groomed or educated to be organizational leaders, and not many safety professionals climb into the organizational leadership roles. This often results in leaders who know little about safety and have other higher priorities.

Good business leaders can become good safety leaders with two simple strategies: First, safety has to be expressed in business terms; and, second, safety has to be managed like other business priorities.

“Smart Cement” Addresses Well Safety, Environmental Issues

Source: Rigzone | 13 May 2014

Oil and gas companies are testing the potential of “talking” cement to address safety and environmental issues that surround cementing issues in wells.

Oceanit, which is headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaii, and has offices in Washington, Houston, and El Granada, California, has formed a joint industry program (JIP) with major oil and gas companies and the US Department of Energy to explore the potential for an additive mixture, developed through nanotechnology research, to address wellbore integrity and zonal isolation in wells.

This technology is expected to affect well economics significantly by preventing catastrophic well blowouts and addressing environmental barriers by safeguarding aquifers, said Vinod P. Veedu, director of strategic initiatives at Oceanit. To create the sensing cement, Oceanit blends with cement an additive mixture comprised of nanomaterials. In the mixing process, the nanomaterials are uniformly dispersed through the cement, forming a network of material that can be pinged to retrieve a signal.

Safety Debate Eyes Taming Bakken Crude Before It Hits Rails

Source: The Globe and Mail | 13 May 2014

After a spate of fiery derailments, the scramble to make North Dakota’s Bakken crude oil safer when it is being transported on trains has focused on better tracks, slower speeds, and reinforced rail cars that bypass urban areas.

But, that is starting to change. A potentially more effective approach, which would remove the most volatile elements from the crude before it is being loaded onto rail cars, is now beginning to get attention, both from regulators considering safety enhancements and some lawmakers, industry executives say.

It is too soon to say if regulators, who say all options are on the table, will end up requiring Bakken crude to be stripped of flammable natural gas liquids (NGLs) before it moves by rail.

But, degassing Bakken crude for rail would be costly. Companies would need to spend potentially billions of dollars on small processing towers known as stabilizers that shave off NGLs from crude and build pipelines to carry the NGLs to a viable market.

Right now, little of that infrastructure exists in the Bakken, which produces about 950,000 B/D of crude for thirsty coastal refineries, with 67% of that moving by rail.

“The issue of whether or not producers should be required to stabilize the product after it comes out of the wellhead and before it’s loaded into a railcar is starting to come up in conversations at the Senate staff level,” said a refining industry executive in Washington.

Executive Says Human Error Accounts for 80% of Offshore Accidents

Source: Fuel Fix | 13 May 2014

Four of every five major offshore accidents are caused by human errors, highlighting the need to make safety the backbone of any offshore company’s corporate culture, an Anadarko Petroleum executive said Monday.

“You can’t fix stupid,” said Jim Raney, director of engineering and technology at Anadarko. “What’s the answer? A culture of safety. It has to be through leadership and supported through procedures—a safety management system.”

The other 20% of offshore accidents are caused by mechanical or structural failures.

Raney spoke during an offshore safety panel at the inaugural event of the Ocean Energy Safety Institute (OESI) at the University of Houston on 12 May. The OESI was formed by three Texas universities and originally planned by regulators after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

New safety regulations and even the industry’s own risk assessments on oil and gas operations, he said, aren’t enough if oil companies don’t take action on what they learn. Oil companies should not just file 1,000-page reports with regulators “and say ‘we did it!’ ” Raney said. “Where’s the call to action? That’s where it’s deficient” in the offshore industry.

Risk assessments—always imperative to offshore operations—allow companies to outline all the different scenarios that could occur during drilling or other operations. But in an odd way, risk assessments can be detrimental to oil companies’ development of safety cultures because, once they are complete, operators believe they’ve done all the work they needed to do, he said.

“It’s not sufficient by itself,” he said. “Are our problems in tools? Are our problem in reliability of structures? No, our problems are in people. The issue is doing the right thing at the right time.”

Robotic, Solar Surfboard-Like Drones Could Make Offshore Safer

Source: The Wall Street Journal | 13 May 2014

Energy companies drilling in deep water from the US Gulf of Mexico to offshore Angola in West Africa are deploying surfboard-like drones—powered by solar panels and propelled by wave action—as their latest weapon against offshore problems such as oil spills.

Oilfield service company Schlumberger showcased the Wave Glider at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston. The devices have powerful sensors that can detect oil leaks seeping into the ocean and remotely monitor pipelines and other equipment thousands of feet below the water line, beaming data back to operation centers by satellite.

Offshore drones could make drilling safer, said Liquid Robotics, the Sunnyvale, California, company partnered with Schlumberger to sell Wave Glider services to energy clients. But the origin of the idea for the gliders was far afield from how oil and gas companies can use them today.

US Federal Government Failed To Inspect Higher-Risk Oil Wells

Source: The Associated Press | 12 May 2014

The US government has failed to inspect thousands of oil and gas wells it considers potentially high risks for water contamination and other environmental damage, congressional investigators say.

The report, obtained by The Associated Press before its public release, highlights substantial gaps in oversight by the agency that manages oil and gas development on federal and Indian lands.

Investigators said weak control by the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) resulted from policies based on outdated science and from incomplete monitoring data.

The findings from the Government Accountability Office come amid an energy boom in the country and the increasing use of hydraulic fracturing.

The audit also said the BLM did not coordinate effectively with state regulators in New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Utah.