DIRECTOR’S NOTE: In the early morning hours of 3 December 1984, a large amount of toxic methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas was released from a Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant, which swept over a large, densely populated area south of the plant. Thousands of people were killed including some at the railway station 2 km away.
I was an employee of Union Carbide Corp. (UCC), the US parent company of UCIL at the time of the accident. There is a great deal that we will never know about the accident. It is difficult to investigate a catastrophe of this magnitude. Most investigations focused on the technical story. We know that, although significant safeguards were designed into the plant to prevent an MIC release, or at least to minimize its impact, all of the safeguards were bypassed, out-of-service, or otherwise rendered ineffective.
But there is a social story that is just as important. Four social drivers form the backdrop to the tragedy: (1) the appeal of socialism in India, (2) an extreme anti-expatriate legal system, (3) general national poverty with abject localized poverty near the plant, and (4) the lack of a safety culture. All of these made it difficult to operate a plant of this sort in India at that time.
Financial factors were important as well; the plant was not making money. UCIL had decided to permanently shut it down, thereby significantly affecting operator morale and exacerbating maintenance deficiencies. The plant was in its last production run at the time of the accident, working off the last batch of MIC.
Much has changed in the process industries as a result of Bhopal including many things that we take for granted, such as hazard and operability analysis, management of change, permit to work, and dispersion modeling. There is an important lesson that we have not learned – effective use of SOPs. The oil and gas industry needs to catch up with the airline and space exploration industries to instill an effective safety culture and to make following SOPs an absolute priority.
I am frequently struck by how little people know about this accident. I think it is important to not only remember those killed and injured in the accident but also to resolve that nothing like it will ever happen again.
I am very honored to serve as your new Projects, Facilities, and Construction (PF&C) Technical Director. There has never been a more exciting time to be a facilities engineer. Our projects are technically and socially complex and this complexity makes them the most interesting projects on the planet.
When I first joined SPE about 15 years ago, SPE was mainly focused on the reservoir, but that has changed dramatically. Thanks to the efforts of directors who proceeded me in this role (Ken Arnold, Paul Jones, and John Walsh) and those of many other volunteers, SPE now offers a host of services to the men and women who design, construct, and operate facilities.
I have spent the past 23 years in the oil industry (with 15 years in chemical plants before that). Much of my experience is in topsides process design. In recent years I’ve worked mainly in commissioning and initial startup planning. It will be my mission as the PF&C Director to use that background to guide SPE in the development of more services to facilities engineers. I will highlight some of those initiatives in future notes here. But for now, just a few words about what SPE already does for the PF&C community:
- Oil and Gas Facilities Magazine. This bi-monthly periodical, started two years ago, includes peer-reviewed articles, feature articles on a variety of topics, regular columns on water management and engineering culture. Expect much more in the way of how-to articles beginning early to mid-2014.
- Three Technical Sections on Separations Technology, Water Management, and Flow assurance (effective Jan 2014).
- A variety of workshops on topics such as Final Commissioning and Initial Startup, Water Management, Chemical Systems, and Flow Assurance.
- SPE recently rolled out Petrowiki. It contains the entire seven-volume Petroleum Engineering Handbook series including Volume III: Facilities and Construction Engineering.
- Social media tools to connect with other professions including the SPE LinkedIn site and SPE Connect.
We have come a long way and there is still a long way to travel.
- Our projects are complex and we sometimes fail (on cost, schedule, and performance). We must do better.
- I don’t think that we are training the next generation as well as my generation was trained. We must do better.
- We have made great strides in personnel safety; perhaps less so in process safety. We must do better.
- The local communities in which we install facilities frequently resist these developments. We must do a better job of engaging with local communities.
I look forward to serving as PF&C Director for the next three years and look forward to hearing your ideas on how SPE can better serve our community.
The January issue of JPT integrates the Technical Directors outlook, where I referred to issues related to the production analysis and reserves booking of unconventional plays. I have already received quite a few feedbacks, most of them (not all of them!) positive, and I would like to develop a little bit more on this issue.
Olivier Houzé is the managing director of KAPPA Engineering. He joined Flopetrol-Johnston in 1983, and served as a well test field engineer in the Middle East and a software project leader in France. He cofounded KAPPA in 1987 and has been its managing director since 1991.
Houzé has been involved in numerous SPE forums and workshops on well test interpretation and related topics. He was a coauthor of the last SPE Monograph on Pressure Transient Testing (2009). He also serves as an SPE Distinguished Lecturer for 2012–13. Houzé earned an engineer degree from École Polytechnique in France and an MS in petroleum engineering from Stanford University.
I am excited and honored to be serving as SPE’s Technical Director for Production and Operations (P&O). My entire 20-year career has covered all aspects of P&O, ranging from supervising fracturing treatments in Northern Canada to completing failure analysis investigations on electric submersible pumping systems in South America. Call me biased, but I cannot imagine a better discipline to specialize in than P&O because it covers a wide range of exciting topics such as production logging, well interventions, artificial lift, wellbore multiphase flow behavior and stimulation.
In order to get some better clarity on what topics are actually covered within the P&O Discipline and our ability to address technical issues more effectively, we are implementing a new structure that introduces four new sub-disciplines: 1) Enhanced Productivity; 2) Enhanced Operation; 3) Asset Surveillance and Optimization; and 4) Production Chemistry and Metallurgy. Currently, my Advisory Committee is working on defining the topics that will reside under each of the new sub-disciplines and this will be published on the P&O discipline page in January 2013. The goal is to disseminate this information across SPE, ranging from publications to conferences, to ensure global conformity. The P&O Technical Section is also going through some significant changes, so stay tuned for announcements regarding these in early 2013 as well.
Wells Supervisor, Completions and Production Technology Group
With high oil prices, the field application of EOR has been on the rise. Please join me at ATCE in San Antonio where I will be moderating a special session titled “EOR – Out of the Lab and Into the Field.”
This session will cover some innovative applications of EOR; innovative in not just what was applied, but also how and where.
View more information on the ATCE schedule of events and find out what is really needed to deploy EOR in the field.
EOR—Out of the Lab and into the Field
Tuesday, 9 October | 0830–1155
On behalf of the Technical Directors (TD), I would like to draw your attention to a new article series in JPT called the Young Technology Showcase. This showcase is part of the TD’s Technology Pipeline strategy and is focused on bringing young technology to the SPE membership. Young refers to early in the technology life cycle where a technology first becomes commercially available.
If you are looking for new technology to apply to your fields, check out two sections of the June 2012 issue of JPT Online: Young Technology – Editor’s Column on page 16 and Young Technology Showcase article, starting on page 40. Additional information regarding Young Technology is provided in the President’s Column of the December 2011 JPT Online.
If you are here then, like me, you must be curious on what is the P&O community is up to? Well that is the idea of this place (page) and its linked websites. As the Production and Operations Technical Director, it pleases me to welcome you to your window on the production and operation world of activities. The P&O Discipline Page, as we will refer to this website, belongs to you, the P&O members and is administered by the SPE staff. We hope you will make it your gateway to explore and discover what is new in technology, where the upcoming events are and who authored the latest papers on your favorite subjects.
We encourage you to make it an active and viable website so as to spread the knowledge and share the benefits. I hope to be able to update this blog every month and whenever new or important happenings take place. I expect and solicit your input, and look forward to your feedback; please keep your contributions coming.
Finally, please watch this space as work is underway to update and roll the new P&O Technical Section community site with its attempt to provide a more focused technical feed to you, our members, on several main work tracks of the P&O community. We intend to link the technical section seamlessly to your P&O Discipline Page. Happy web-surfing everyone.
As SPE Technical Director for Projects, Facilities, and Construction (PFC), I invite you to take a look at Oil and Gas Facilities, SPE’s magazine dedicated to our discipline. Oil and Gas Facilities focuses on the projects, systems, and technologies of facilities engineering. Feature articles give timely reports on PFC-related news, technical advances, and people, and each issue of the magazine includes several peer-reviewed technical papers.
The idea for this magazine was born in a 2011 meeting of our PFC Advisory Committee, made up of industry volunteers and SPE staff. We recognized that SPE is providing many good programs in our discipline—workshops, Distinguished Lecturers, conference sessions, study groups, and so on—but many PFC specialists don’t view SPE as their professional home. This magazine, launched in February 2012, helped change that perception.
We also recognized the dramatic increase in complexity and technical challenges facing our discipline. Several years ago, developments such as major offshore projects, deepwater, and subsea tie-backs provided the justification for the PF&C discipline within SPE. Today, new developments have dramatically increased the demands of our discipline—intense IOR/EOR activity, ultra deep water, subsea processing, unconventional gas (fracturing), stranded gas (gas to liquids, floating LNG), sour hydrocarbons, remote locations, harsh environments, water handling issues, etc. SPE, with guidance from industry leaders, is responding to this greater need for technical information and knowledge sharing in our discipline.
I am delighted to be serving alongside some of the most distinguished professionals in our discipline on the Oil and Gas Facilities Editorial Board: Ian Ball, Technology Director, INTECSEA, UK, chairman; Paul Jones, Subsea Manager, Chevron; Kenneth E. Arnold, Senior Technical Advisor, WorleyParsons; Joseph Lee, Director, Process Solutions Group, Process System Division, Cameron; Howard Duhon, Systems Engineering Manager, GATE LLC; Simon Richards, Supervisory Engineer, Wood Group Frontier; and Jim Collins, Principal Development Engineer, ConocoPhillips (Peer-Review Editor)
SPE members can subscribe to this bimonthly magazine at a special introductory price of USD 39. Subscribe on your 2013 dues statement or, if you have already paid your dues, by ordering a subscription at www.spe.org/go/ogf.
Oil and Gas Facilities is the industry’s most important periodical serving production, facilities, and construction professionals. Subscribe now so that you don’t miss a single issue.
John M. Walsh
I am very honored to serve as your new Management and Information (M&I) Technical Director. Many thanks to Kamel Bennaceur for progressing this technical area and for his service to SPE as the former M&I Technical Director.
I plan to use this space as a blog area to keep you apprised of what I’m focusing on in M&I. I will be updating it on a monthly basis. In this first post, I share my top three goals for 2012.
Goal 1: M&I Understanding and Challenge Identification
The M&I area is very interesting one. It encompasses many topics that cut across the traditional disciplines of Reservoir, Drilling, Facilities, etc. In talking with members, I find that this area is not well understood. This will be one of my early goals to better establish an understanding of M&I with the membership and to identify what key challenges need to be addressed.
Goal 2: Digital Energy – What’s Next
Digital or intelligent energy has emerged as one of the newest areas within M&I. Through the leadership of some key SPE members, this area continues to change the way oil and gas is found, developed and produced. The time is right to reassess our SPE strategies in this area to ensure we help the industry achieve optimum benefit from these new capabilities. To that end, we have two initiatives ongoing. First, the Digital Energy Technical Section has chartered a team to reassess their strategies and charter. Second, the Technical Directors have identified Data to Action (D2A) as one of three Hot Topic Technologies that are being assessed and addressed holistically from an SPE delivery perspective. This is a joint effort between Ahmed Abou-Sayed, the Production Operations Technical Director, and me.
Goal 3: Petroleum Engineering (PE) Faculty Challenges
Our industry faces challenges attracting, developing and retaining PE faculty. Over the past year, I have been involved with a special SPE task force that identified these challenges and made recommendations to the SPE Board to recognize faculty with monetary awards in three areas: 1) demonstrating teaching excellence, 2) providing research seed funds to junior faculty and 3) encouraging students to pursue academic careers. The Board approved these awards on a pilot basis and we are currently forming award committees to make awards in the coming academic year.
I welcome your input, feedback and assistance to help progress the M&I area. You can contact me at email@example.com.