Health, Safety, Environment, and Social Responsibility

In April of this year, SPE held its 25th-­anniversary Health, Safety, Security, Environment, and Social Responsibility (HSSE-SR) conference in Norway. It is incredible to think about the progress this industry has made since the very first event was held in 1991. The theme this year was fitting: Sustaining Our Future Through Innovation and Collaboration. The technological solutions that have been introduced have helped us be not only more efficient but also safer and more environmentally friendly. The challenges we face now, and into the future, include more oversight from all of our stakeholders—from the governments to the public—all of whom grant us the license to operate.

We currently face the acute challenge of sustaining our performance in a low-price environment. The industry is responding by introducing proven lean techniques, to be more capital efficient. At the same time, the demands on the HSSE-SR functional professionals have never been greater, with regulations being created or updated at a rapid pace. The public has an increased focus on our performance. This means the HSSE-SR representatives in our industry must become increasingly savvy, both technically and operationally.  Functional leaders must have a firm grounding in the HSSE-SR risks inherent to the operations as well as a good understanding of the business and financials. This knowledge will enable companies to prioritize and direct their focus and resources to the right places.

This issue will highlight some of the excellent work being performed in our industry. The journey to an injury- and incident-free operation has many paths, and we can see by the different approaches that progress is being made. Process safety is becoming a routine part of our structure programs and management systems. The ongoing discussions around unconventional development are driving understanding of everything from the potential for injection-induced seismicity to the role of government in regulating drilling and completions. Companies are better at integrating social issues into their overall risk picture and are working more proactively with communities to ensure their license to operate. We are seeing more focus on the emissions from our operations. Because of climate-change concerns, governments are requiring that more be done, which is driving com­panies to develop new technologies to help identify and fix point sources.

And, finally, there is always the human element. It once was very common to see an incident investigation in which the root cause was listed as someone not following a process. Our interactions with high-reliability organizations are shifting the understanding of human factors. At the aforementioned SPE conference, technical experts on human factors, including researchers and pilots for major airlines, discussed how organizations can take the human element into account as they build their equipment, processes, and procedures. This helps us to better look at failures (and successes) through a brain-based focus and understand how to reduce the chance, and outcome, of errors.

Recommended Additional Reading

SPE 174824 Obtaining Operational Efficiencies by Applying Process-Safety KPIs Developed for Offshore Production Installations by Fred A. Infortunio, Swift Worldwide Resources, et al.

SPE 177705 Integrating Community Well-Being in Business Decisions by Vishal Shah, Abu Dhabi Gas Development Company, et al.

SPE 175449 Safety Critical Tasks: Identification of Human Error To Control Risks From Major Accident Hazards by George Petrie, Consultant, et al.

SPE 179221 A Risk-Based Approach to Driving and Journey Management for Land Transport Contractors  by G. Wiraatmaja, Schlumberger, et al.

SPE 176319 Early Assessment of Environmental and Social Risks and Impacts of a Shale-Gas Development in Morocco by Ignacio Barcelo, Repsol

SPE 179203 How an Oilfield Services Company Managed the Ebola Outbreak in Nigeria by U. Okorocha, Schlumberger, et al.

SPE 177777 The Normalization of Deviance in the Oil and Gas Industry: The Role of Rig Leadership in Success and Failure
by Stewart Hase, Beyond Break, et al.


Tom Knode, SPE, is a consultant for Statoil in HSSE-SR. In this and his prior role at Halliburton, he has worked at both regional and global levels on issues such as land transportation, health and industrial hygiene, and compliance tracking and oversight. One of Knode’s particular focus areas was HSSE-SR leadership at both operational and functional levels. He has also instituted processes to improve incident investigations and the understanding of human factors. With Halliburton, Knode’s last role was as director of HSE standards and performance, where he worked on strategic imperatives and standards for the company. He was on the SPE Board of Directors from 2008 through 2011 as the technical director for HSSE-SR, has cochaired five SPE HSSE-SR conferences, and is a member of the JPT Editorial Committee. Knode has authored or co­authored approximately 20 technical papers on a variety of HSE topics. He holds a BS degree in geology from Texas Christian University and an MS degree in geology from The University of Texas at Arlington. Knode can be reached at tknod@statoil.com.

Health, Safety, Environment, and Social Responsibility

Tom Knode, SPE, Consultant, Statoil

15 July 2016

Volume: 68 | Issue: 8

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