ProAct Safety | 15 October 2014

Column: Who Really Owns Safety?

If safety is more important than production, why does safety report up through Legal, Human Resources, or Production rather than production reporting up through the company’s No. 1 priority? If safety is so important, how many CEOs come from the safety department? Safety is a core value, and most organizations employ safety managers. But, if trust and honesty are also common corporate values, where are the trust and honesty managers? The answer lies with the uncomfortable truth: reality.

Not intending to sound flippant, and recognizing the importance of process, passion, and the technical and legal reasons for safety professionals, who “owns” safety is an important issue to be analyzed if excellence is the goal.

OptaSense | 2 October 2014

Award Nomination Recognizes OptaSense for Improving Hydraulic Fracturing Safety

OptaSense, a QinetiQ company and global leader in distributed acoustic sensing (DAS), has been recognized for its contribution to improving the safety of hydraulic fracturing. OptaSense’s DAS Hydraulic Fracture Profiling (DAS-HFP) service has been selected as a finalist for the World Oil Award in the Best Health, Safety, and Environment/Sustainable Development Onshore category.

The DAS-HFP service is used within hydraulic fracturing operations where OptaSense technology is used not only to improve the operational efficiency of hydraulic fracture stimulation but also to provide a real-time monitoring capability to verify well integrity.

OptaSense helps operators manage unplanned events such as flow behind casing, casing leaks and ruptures, casing collapse, and isolation failures between stimulation stages. This not only has economic value for optimizing a hydraulic fracturing program but also delivers significant value for environmental monitoring of fracture fluid breakthrough into other subsurface formations and freshwater aquifers because of wellbore barrier failure.

Currently, the American Petroleum Institute (API) regulatory guidelines state that the internal conduit of the well must be isolated from the surface and subsurface environments. However, conventional technologies are typically limited to pressure measurements at the wellhead and are inadequate for real-time detection and characterization of most failures other than catastrophic ones.

By contrast, the OptaSense DAS system provides a means to measure and monitor the performance of these barriers directly from wellhead to toe continuously and in real time. The system is used to detect, localize, and characterize barrier failure. It also detects fluid communication behind casing, casing collapse, and leaks through or between casing strings, many of which go unnoticed by conventional monitoring methods.

The World Oil Award nomination recognizes that the real-time data OptaSense delivers provides invaluable information to operators, greatly minimizing the environmental cost of a leak by early detection.

Magnus McEwen-King, OptaSense managing director, said, “It is an honor to be recognized alongside the major service companies in one of the industry’s most prestigious awards. Our DAS-HFP service is just one of several services provided over fiber-optics that improve the efficiency and safety of hydraulic fracture operations. Distributed fiber-optic sensing has the potential to provide monitoring throughout the life of the well. The ability to monitor the whole wellbore continuously enables operators to confirm wellbore integrity and better understand, diagnose, and correct sources of failure to improve operational effectiveness.”

The winners of the World Oil Awards will be announced at the ceremony held at the Houstonian Hotel in Houston on 16 October.

Read more about OptaSense here.

Rigzone | 2 October 2014

University of Pittsburgh Offers Safety Engineering Certificate Program

A new Safety Engineering Certificate program for graduate students has launched at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of engineering (SSoE). The program is headed by Associate Professor and Director of Safety Engineering Program Joel Haight, an 18-year manager and engineering veteran of Chevron.

The goal during the development of the Safety Engineering Program, which is made of three required courses and two courses from a list of electives, was to prepare engineers to meet the challenges that increased safety presents by training them in “the application and implementation of safety engineering concepts, principles and practices,” according to the SSoE. While the certificate is intended to provide training in safety engineering for engineers, it can be of benefit to those in nonengineering-based safety professions.

The courses in the program were first offered in the spring 2014 semester, but the actual certificate program just got under way for the fall semester. The program is offered within a classroom setting, as well as online, so that anyone around the globe with computer access can take the program.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners | 30 September 2014

TekSolv Wins Shale Gas Environmental, Health, and Safety Award for Gas Detector

Ben Franklin’s Shale Gas Innovation and Commercialization Center (SGICC) announced its second annual Shale Gas Environmental, Health, & Safety (EH&S) Award at its recent Shale Insight 2014 Technology Showcase event. The Technology Showcase, sponsored by the SGICC, is the highlight of the Marcellus Shale Coalition’s Shale Insight 2014 Pre-Conference Workshop and Conference.

The 2014 Shale Gas EH&S Award was presented to TekSolv for its development of a commercially available gas detection sensor system. The TekNet Gas Detection System effectively identifies explosive buildup of dangerous gases during the drilling and fracturing process. The advanced capabilities of the TekNet System were exhibited during an extensive demonstration effort supported by one of the more active operators in the Marcellus shale. The technology brings an entirely new platform to market that is especially effective and accurate at monitoring the buildup of gases in wet gas operations, a focus of the shale energy play.

Bill Hall, executive director of SGICC, said, “It is paramount to the success of the shale energy industry that they operate in an environmentally responsible, safe manner, continuing to earn the trust and respect of the average citizen, as well as the workers they employ, and the communities in which they operate. Ben Franklin’s Shale Gas Innovation and Commercialization Center is proud to make the announcement of our second annual EH&S award to TekSolv.”

Houston Public Media | 22 September 2014

Texas Efforts To Improve Oil Traffic Safety Yield Mixed Success

In 2013, the Texas Legislature took up House Bill 2741, a measure to toughen the state’s trucking regulations. The bill passed, and Gov. Rick Perry signed it into law. It includes language designed to help the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) crack down on rogue trucking operations.

Every time a truck driver is cited by law enforcement for a safety violation, it’s a black mark against his employer. Too low a safety score and the state can force the carrier to close.

“Heretofore, that company would shut its doors as ‘Andrew’s Trucking’ and open its doors in the same location, same brick and mortar, same address, as ‘John’s Trucking’ with a clean slate,” says John Esparza, president of the Texas Trucking Alliance, a trade group based in San Antonio.

Esparza calls such haulers “chameleon carriers.” Under HB 2741, which his organization supported, the Texas DMV now has the power to block chameleons from getting the permits they need to operate.

Denying permits isn’t always enough to shut down a rogue hauler. The Department of Public Safety ordered Houston-based R&F Quality Transportation to shut down last December, after a long string of violations. It was still operating in April, when one of its drivers struck and killed Vilma Marenco less than a mile from her home.

EHS Today | 10 September 2014

Column: Is ‘Safety Culture’ Dead?

In 1988, after the incident at Chernobyl, a new term arrived to arm safety professionals the world over. The report of the International Nuclear Safety Advisory Group (INSAG) coined the term “safety culture.” This concept quickly was embraced and refined over the next few years, but the definition from the INSAG report stuck around:

“The safety culture of an organization is the product of individual and group values, attitudes, perceptions, competencies, and patterns of behavior that determine the commitment to, and the style and proficiency of, an organization’s health and safety management.

Organizations with a positive safety culture are characterized by communications founded on mutual trust, by shared perceptions of the importance of safety, and by confidence in the efficacy of preventive measures.”

When I first heard about safety culture, I thought it made a lot of sense, and, admittedly, I embraced the concept. Since then, I have worked in various places, and I successfully have driven cultural change. Over that time, I have become less and less convinced of the existence of “safety culture” as my understanding of organizational dynamics has evolved.

Fabricating and Metalworking | 10 September 2014

Column: Safety as Sustainability

Once upon a time, sustainability was a nonissue in business because it seemed pretty simple: keep getting sales orders, deliver in a way the customer stays happy, and everything else takes care of itself. As business ramped up into our current hyper-competitive environment, supply chain managers began to carefully scrutinize what their partners were doing to ensure that their operations would be sustained and they would be around in the future.

Part of this scrutiny dealt with “sustainability” related to environmental management, the practice of making responsible business moves that do not place the short-term financial interests of the company before the long-term needs of the ecological environment. Business decisions are scrutinized to make sure they consider the physical, chemical, and biotic factors acting upon the ecological community.

Now, sustainability is increasingly being viewed through a much wider lens that scrutinizes the business footprint being left on the environment, the community, and, to some extent, global politics. Until recently, for example, few small and midsized manufacturers worried about using so-called “conflict minerals” that originate from regions of the world being torn apart by military conflicts that are, in turn, often funded by the consumption of these same minerals. Yet today, many companies are now required by law to prove that they aren’t buying conflict minerals.

What does this wider view of sustainability have to do with worker safety? Safety—or more accurately, the lack of safety—can play a profound role in the level to which a company is considered sustainable.

Offshore Energy Today | 25 August 2014

Lloyd’s Register Energy: Oil Firms Must Focus on Safety and Innovation

Lloyd’s Register Energy is challenging oil and gas companies to improve their approach to safety, performance, and technical innovation to secure the world’s changing energy supply in a sustainable way, from reservoir and refinery to beyond.

Bjørn Inge Bakken, seniort vice president of Lloyd’s Register’s consulting business said, “With a changing energy mix and increased challenges around innovative exploration and production techniques, the industry cannot afford to be complacent when it comes to safety.”

The global safety and certification organization says industry must adapt to anticipated future market and technology developments, but that it must not lose sight of safety.

“All stakeholders have a responsibility and interest to assure the safety and reliability of new, cleaner and more sustainable energy sources, to meet with increasing energy demands and government targets worldwide for reducing carbon emissions,” Bakken said.

OSHA | 19 August 2014

OSHA Education Centers Offer Specialized Safety Training for the Oil and Gas Industry

To help workers and employers better understand the hazards in the oil and gas industry, OSHA Training Institute Education Centers nationwide are offering the OSHA #5810 Hazards Recognition and Standards for On-Shore Oil and Gas Exploration and Production course. OSHA developed this course through a cooperative effort with the Rocky Mountain Education Center and industry professionals.

The oil and gas industry employs more than 450,000 workers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2012 alone, more than 2,400 workers were injured and 181 more were killed, which is five times higher than the national average.

Platts | 15 August 2014

BSEE Chief Calls for New Database for US Offshore Drilling Industry

A US Interior Department official wants the offshore drilling industry to develop a comprehensive public database to help improve safety and prevent spills in federal waters.

“Currently, individual operators are collecting a lot of the data we need to properly assess risk, but that information isn’t being shared,” Brian Salerno, director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, said in remarks prepared for an industry forum in Houston. “Everyone is working in their own silo, collecting and using information for their own operations.”

But Salerno said offshore oil and gas operators, as well as regulators, lack “big picture data” and incidents, such as certain equipment failures, are not being shared with all operators. This lack of information-sharing is particularly needed as offshore drilling expands into new areas in the Arctic or potentially off the US East Coast.

“Wouldn’t it be incredibly valuable to have more information for these operations in new frontier areas that carry great economic potential but also carry great risk?” Salerno said in his remarks to the Ocean Energy Safety Institute forum.

Journal of Petroleum Technology | 11 August 2014

Wireless Hydrogen Sulfide Sensor Uses Nanotechnology To Improve Safety In Oil and Gas Facilities

Real-time monitoring of pollutant, toxic, and flammable gases is important for health and safety during petroleum-extraction and -distribution operations. Currently, many methods exist for detecting such gases, but most sensors suffer from slow response times, high power consumption, high costs, or an inability to operate in harsh conditions. This paper demonstrates a small, low-cost, low-power, highly sensitive nanomaterial-based gas sensor specifically targeted for the detection of hydrogen sulfide.

Current personal monitors for hydrogen sulfide are typically electrochemical-based sensors because of their low power consumption, relatively small size, and satisfactory selectivity. However, electrochemical cells typically have fairly slow response times and are prone to degradation or errors at extreme temperatures and humidity. Semiconducting-metal-oxide (SMO) sensors have fast response times and simple interface electronics and can operate in harsh conditions, making them a mainstay of industrial monitoring. However, the power required to operate a conventional SMO sensor is typically hundreds of milliwatts. Therefore, operation of a handheld monitor using conventional SMO sensors is not feasible for long-term monitoring. To overcome this problem, the authors have fabricated very-low-power microheaters and functionalized them with tungsten oxide nanoparticles to create an hydrogen sulfide sensor suitable for long-term battery-powered operation.

The Associated Press | 6 August 2014

Report Faults Chevron in Deadly Gas Well Fire

Environmental investigators faulted Chevron site managers in a report released 6 August on a natural gas well fire in western Pennsylvania that killed one worker.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection report said that a contract worker with no oilfield experience worked on the well, contrary to company policy, and that the February fire “may have been caused by human error” when a lock screw was ejected from the well, allowing high-pressure methane gas to escape.

The report also said Chevron’s wellsite managers did not always provide enough oversight to contractors at the site in Dunkard, Pennsylvania, about 50 miles south of Pittsburgh.

A Chevron spokesman said the company is reviewing the report.

Read the full story here.