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.

FuelFix | 30 August 2016

Federal Offshore Chief Calls for Urgency in Bolt Failure Inquiry

The federal government’s top offshore drilling regulator said on 29 August that regulators and the oil and gas industry need to figure out why bolts are failing on undersea equipment used in offshore drilling “sooner rather than later.”

Brian Salerno, director of BSEE, touring the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston in 2016. Credit: BSEE.

“We need to have the root cause before we dictate a solution,” Brian Salerno, director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), said at a news conference. “It’s in nobody’s interest to have a catastrophic failure.”

The government urgency on a problem that stretches back a decade is a result of greater awareness about the growing frequency of broken bolts that hold together critical equipment such as blowout preventers.

General Electric Oil & Gas, one of three primary suppliers, issued a global recall after its bolts on a piece of undersea equipment in the Gulf of Mexico failed in 2012, releasing more than 400 bbl of drilling fluid into the water.

That incident was reported to the government but many more were not, federal officials say, masking the extent of the problem. That will change with new rules put into place by the safety bureau this year that require the reporting of equipment failure regardless of whether pollution or worker injury occurred.

Health + Safety at Work | 30 August 2016

What Exactly Is “Safety Differently?”

If you have heard of “safety differently,” chances are you either work for Laing O’Rourke or have heard a presentation by John Green, health and safety director for its Europe hub.

Green returned to the UK in summer 2015 after 5 years in Australia, where he successfully turned ideas in the eponymous book by Australian academic Sidney Dekker into operational policy on Laing O’Rourke sites. Although the ideas have taken root at Laing O’Rourke and elsewhere—including aviation and mining—so far it has made limited impact in the construction sector.

And it’s not difficult to see why “safety differently” might be a hard sell: Essentially, it demands an end to the established culture of “zero harm” policies and a greater acceptance of accidents as part of working life. To an industry that’s adopted mottos such as “all accidents are preventable” and ”zero tolerance,” that is a blindfolded leap into an unknown filled with liability claims, bidding problems, and sleepless nights.

Green is the first to assert this does not mean throwing out the gains of the last 15 years. “It’s not a ‘new church’ because the old one is wrong. I think the principles we’re applying are solidly based [in current practice]. But they’re also for people in search of alternatives, because the old ways aren’t working. Zero harm has done a great job, but its time is done.” The clearest evidence, as he points out, is the stubbornly high fatality rate: a 5-year average of 43 between 2010–11 and 2014–15.

Facility Safety Management | 30 August 2016

New Fall Protection Standard Makes Using Equipment Easier

The revision of American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Z359.1, Safety Requirements for Personal Fall Arrest Systems, Subsystems, and Components, recently received final ANSI administrative approval. Z359.1 underwent fundamental changes from the 2007 version.

Essentially, it is a new standard with regard to technical content, not simply a revision of the requirements in the previous editions.

The (ANSI) Z359.1 Fall Protection Standard helps guide the use of fall protection to protect workers. Recognizing that the current 10-year standard was dated, theZ359 Committee that oversees the standard’s development created new substandards that address fall restraint systems, work positioning systems, rope access systems, fall arrest systems, and rescue systems. The new standard was approved by ANSI on 15 August 2016, said Thomas Kramer, vice-chairman of the Z359 Committee.

“We wrote standards for each piece of equipment to make it much easier to use,” Kramer said. “We wanted to ensure it would be a guide to the whole Z359 Fall Protection Code by establishing requirements for the performance, design, marking, qualification, instruction, training, inspection, use, and maintenance of this equipment.”