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.

API Outlines Fire Risks to Oil, Gas Drillers

Source: UPI | 25 April 2014

The American Petroleum Institute (API) announced it published new industry guidelines to help identify fire risks associated with oil and natural gas development.

API published Recommended Practice 99, which identifies and highlights ways to reduce the risks associated with flash fires during the exploration and production phase of US oil and natural gas development.

API Standards Director David Miller said the recommended practice will help companies and operators identify and reduce the risks of accidents before they happen.

“Industry standards developed by API help our industry achieve its daily commitment to operate safely and responsibly,” he said in a statement on 23 April.

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said the potential for flash fires increases when operators reach zones containing oil or natural gas. OSHA said that, if the pressure from underground is not contained, there is a “high potential” for fires because of the presence of ignition sources in and around the drilling platform.

Blast at US LNG Site Casts Spotlight on Natural Gas Safety

Source: Reuters | 9 April 2014

An unexplained blast on 31 March at a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in rural Washington state, which injured workers, forced an evacuation, and raised alarm about a potentially large second explosion, could focus attention on the risk of storing massive gas supplies near population centers.

The incident at Williams’s massive gas storage site is a rare safety-record blemish among the dozens of US LNG plants and storage sites, including towering tanks in packed neighborhoods of New York City and near Boston.

Energy industry experts and opponents of new LNG plants alike said it may spur debate about safe handling of gas for cities increasingly reliant on the clean-burning fuel. At least a dozen new US LNG export facilities are seeking government approval, and some have faced opposition on safety grounds.

Regulators Confront Industry Skepticism on New Safety Hotline

Source: FuelFix | 2 April 2014

Federal regulators are pleading with the oil industry to ‘fess up when they dodge big accidents on offshore production platforms, rigs, and drillships.

The pitch—set to be delivered in meetings with industry leaders later this month—comes nearly 8 months after the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement first pledged to create a system for tracking near-miss incidents that could be a harbinger of bigger safety problems in offshore oil and gas development.

Bureau officials say the confidential program, being developed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, is critical to learning more about close calls offshore and averting future accidents. But because it’s a voluntary program, industry buy-in is essential to making it work.

“The voluntary, confidential near-miss reporting system has the potential to help prevent catastrophic incidents that endanger lives and the environment,” said safety bureau Director Brian Salerno in a statement. “However, the tool is only as good as the information provided.”