A Scottish company has combined the latest behavioral psychology with the rigors of data science algorithms in a new product designed to prevent potentially fatal accidents in the North Sea.
Aberdeen-based Opex Group and an industrial behavioral psychologist are designing a tool that will combine data from diagnostic surveys with historical data on oil and gas accidents and spills reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
The resulting real-time predictive analysis will aid operators and service companies by encouraging behaviors that help to avoid incidents that lead to spillages, accidents, or fatalities on offshore rigs and ships.
The product aims to avoid disasters, such as the explosion and resulting oil and gas fires that destroyed the Piper Alpha platform 120 miles northeast of Aberdeen in 1988, killing 167 people. Despite North Sea oil and gas operators having some of the most rigorous health and safety regimes in the world, there is still room for improvement.
Chris Flint, the HSE’s director of Energy Division, wrote to all North Sea operators last year to express concern about the number of gas spills that are prevalent within the industry. He called for companies to review their safety processes as he warned some spills had come “perilously close to disaster.”
Chris Ayres, chief operating officer of Opex, stated that the firm has been working with behavioral psychologist and people-analytics expert Eugene Burke to develop the X-Pas Smart Behaviours tool. The project has been in development since 2017, when Opex participated in a digital transformation project at Aberdeen’s Oil and Gas Technology Centre.
Ayres said, “Human behavior is one of the factors that contributes to a safety culture and also to the overall level of safety incidents that occur offshore. What we do is combine survey data to establish a behavioral risk profile with the historic HSE incident data. That allows us to identify levers that have the most impact of those behavioral risks from the number of offshore incidents that have been incurred. Basically, it reveals previously uncorrelated relationships within the HSE data through the power of data science.”
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