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13 Sep 2017

Safety Risk Management of Drilling Operations

Safety risks of drilling operations exist widely because of the hostile environment, ageing equipment, more challenging wells, and human errors. Failure to control or eliminate the safety risks may affect the drilling safety and lead to drilling accidents, resulting in enormous economic losses, or even casualties. Previous drilling accidents had shown great challenges of safety risk management, such as outdated management ideas and tools, poor awareness of safety risks, lack of effective safety risk information sharing, and incomplete risk management system.

In this paper, the potential safety risks associated with drilling facilities, workers, and management are figured out, and the corresponding risk management measures are formulated. Meanwhile, the guidelines for safety risk management of drilling operations are established. In addition, the guidelines are combined with the information technology and the web and mobile versions of the intelligent safety risk management software of drilling operations are designed and developed. The safety inspector in drilling sites can use mobile terminals to identify the drilling risks, being recorded in the form of text, pictures, video, and other documents and choose the risk control and mitigation measures. The safety management staff in the company can monitor the results of chosen measures in time by using the web version and provide effective and timely technical support for the field’s safety risk management if necessary.

With the use of the intelligent safety risk management software of drilling operations, the two-way communication and safety risk information sharing between drilling sites and drilling safety management departments can be realized. A complete drilling safety risk management system can also be gradually developed in the process of risk identification, record, report, analysis, control, mitigation and prevention.

The intelligent safety risk management software of drilling operations has been applied in some oil fields and reveals excellent application prospects. Being an intelligent management tool, the software system can significantly improve the safety risk management efficiency and finally realize the informational management of safety risks in drilling operations.

Find the paper on the HSSE-SR Technical Discipline Page free for a limited time.

13 Sep 2017

Deadline Nears To Submit Papers for International HSE Conference

Planning is well under way for the 2018 SPE International Conference and Exhibition on Health, Safety, Security, Environment, and Social Responsibility (HSSE-SR), which will be held 16–18 April in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Abstracts are being accepted, and the deadline for submission is 2 October.

The theme of the conference is “Continuing HSSE-SR Excellence for a Sustainable Future.”

“Through this event, we hope to create a platform where all the industry’s stakeholders, from the individual oil and gas professional to the HSE officer to the subject-matter specialist, can come together to discuss and debate current HSE systems and procedures, choose the best practices, and bring about the changes that will lead to the industry’s continued success and advancement,” said Abdulla Al Marzooqi, conference chairman and health, safety, and environment manager for Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. “It is in this spirit that we invite you to share your ideas, case studies, and experience in HSE.”

Abstracts are being accepted in 127 categories under the topics of Health in Communities, Health in the Working Environment, Industrial Hygiene, Occupational Safety, Process Safety, Safety: Management Systems, Environment, Social Responsibility, and Sustainability.

Read about the conference here.

Submit an abstract here.

12 Sep 2017

The Woman Question

For my thirteenth and final column as SPE president, I saved the subject that I am asked about most often. After every speech, I am asked some form of “the woman question.” What’s it been like to be a woman in the oil and gas industry? How do you manage work/life balance? Are there opportunities for women in our industry? I am the fourth woman SPE president, but it has been 11 years since the last one, making me the only female president of this generation. So, I make a point to be visible to the technical women in our industry and give them my frank perspective on what my journey has been like.

I vividly remember 4 November 1980—as Ronald Reagan was announced as the newly elected US president, I was eating dinner at the old Petroleum Club in Midland, Texas. I was in town for a job interview, and it was the first time I had dinner with a table of executives who were evaluating me. The club was about to move from the old mansion to a modern facility, but the Petroleum Club was still stuck in the past—women were not allowed to join. I had just turned 21, had a month until I graduated with my petroleum engineering degree, and was ready to embark on my long career. I thought that the 1970s women’s rights movement had changed the workplace for all of us and that the “gender wars” were over.

I was wrong.

Read the full column here.

11 Sep 2017

Safety Simulator Reveals Need for More Training

The results of a virtual reality (VR) safety simulator and gaming experience presented by Lloyd’s Register (LR) at SPE Offshore Europe suggest that more needs to be done in training and understanding the daily risks of oil rig maintenance and operation.

Credit: Lloyd’s Register.

Lloyd’s put delegates attending SPE Offshore Europe 2017 in Aberdeen through their paces with a VR safety simulator and gaming experience.

The new VR experience received a high level of interest in the opening days of the event, when attendees experienced the VR and gaming technology that is on the cusp of reshaping how training is provided to the oil and gas industry.

The experience was being launched at the Offshore Technology Conference in May in Houston and is now at other events across the world. The technology is being used to raise an understanding of the critical nature many workers are exposed to in everyday rig operations. Lloyd’s is also using VR to provide training initiatives to support better skills training and knowledge sharing.

Users experience three key issues borne out of real-life incidents first hand through sight, sound, and touch. Users can then choose one of three multiple-choice answers for each scenario, and the gaming experience is then replayed on the answers the user selected.

The results from the user experience at SPE Offshore Europe show that more needs to be done to ensure the risks of getting decisions wrong are fully understood.

Blowout Preventer (BOP) Maintenance Incident—Just 43% of respondents at SPE Offshore Europe chose the correct answer to prevent the accident from happening. Users correctly identified an X-ray of the BOP to discover a badly fitted outlet part.

Drilling Platform Incident—Only 33% of users at Offshore Europe chose the correct answer. A window in the dog house was broken, letting rain water inside. A critical console in the dog house faulted from water ingress, causing an unplanned event on the drill floor.

Crane Lifting Operation With a Heavy Load Incident—43% of users chose the correct solution, which identified a poorly maintained lifting eye that needed to be replaced.

Based on these results, what can the industry do? Phil Edwards, director of consulting services at Lloyd’s, said, “Training and educating the industry on how to enhance operational safety and improve business performance is at the heart of LR’s business. We hope this VR experience and the results from it can become a catalyst for further industry engagement on best practice training initiatives, which produce a step-up in better, constructive, and tangible learning and training results.”


6 Sep 2017

Filling in the Blanks To Limit Earthquake Risks

It is known that a well injecting a lot of water near a big fault can lead to earthquakes. The problem is, more often than not, those faults are not known until after a tremor.

Maps plot the earthquake epicenters over maps showing various versions of gravity and magnetic studies. Source: RPSEA Project 12122-91.

“Only 34% of these earthquakes occur within 2 km of any known fault,” said Jeremy Boak, director of the Oklahoma Geological Survey, which is working on multiple studies to describe and understand how water injection activates critically stressed faults to cause earthquakes.

“We are learning where many faults are,” Boak said at the American Association of Petroleum Geologists annual meeting this spring, where he delivered a paper along with researchers from Texas, Kansas, and Colorado talking about what they are doing to fill the knowledge gaps.

While the Oklahoma Geological Survey is not a regulator, its work has guided what the state has done to reduce the number of earthquakes by limiting injection in those areas with the most problems.

“The drop is due to decreases in injection,” related to a slowdown in activity since oil prices dropped and the orders to reduce injection in affected areas by the regulator, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, Boak said.

Speaking at the ­Unconventional Resources Technology Conference in July, Boak predicted that the number of earthquakes strong enough to feel will total around 300 this year—one-third of the number of the peak that occurred in 2015. Boak said it is far from an acceptable rate of activity in a state where the annual average used to be 1.6 events a year.

He and others working on this problem are concerned about big gaps in the information needed to measure and avoid spots predisposed to seismic activity if too much water is injected. That is as big a problem in Texas and Kansas as it is in Oklahoma.

The future economics of oil exploration in these areas depend on identifying specific solutions—problem places or practices—rather than wholesale limits on saltwater disposal.

A study in Colorado identified a previously unmapped fault zone to avoid, which was responsible for a cluster of earthquakes within the Denver Basin.

Identifying and avoiding places and practices that trigger problems can answer the public pressure to ban salt­water injection, according to the paper by two graduate students at the Colorado School of Mines. They estimated that treating the water could cost six times more than disposal.

“We need to improve our knowledge of subsurface faults and fractures,” said Tandis Bidgoli, an assistant scientist for energy research at the Kansas Geological Survey. Kansas recently completed a new fault map of the state, which shares a border with Oklahoma, with support from the US Geological Survey.

Read the full story here.

30 Aug 2017

New Chevron Venture Program Selects Pipeline Inspection Technologies

Chevron Technology Ventures (CTV) selected Ingu Solutions and Rheidiant as two of the first companies to receive funding under its recently announced Catalyst Program, an initiative to help early-stage companies promote technology to advance oil and gas applications on a global scale.

Ingu’s Pipers sensor system was among the initial selections to receive funding under Chevron’s CTV Catalyst Program.

The Catalyst Program was developed to accelerate the maturation of early-stage companies working on technologies that can directly benefit the oil and gas industry. These include, among others, smart oilfield equipment, advanced materials, water technology, and information technology hardware and software. Companies chosen for the program are expected to be beyond seed stage with plans to raise additional venture capital in the near future. Ingu and Rheidiant can receive funding through the program upon the completion of milestone achievements.

Chevron selected Ingu for its Pipers technology, which gives companies access to out-of-reach pipeline assets. The technology uses miniature inline sensors to detect leaks, geometric defects, and deposits that threaten pipeline performance and safety. Ingu said in a press release that the technology eliminates the need for human intervention, reducing inspection costs, strengthening preventative maintenance, and lowering repair and replacement expenditures.

Rheidiant was chosen for its Smart Sign leak detection system, which helps companies monitor pipelines for small and large leaks through the use of proprietary acoustic sensors deployed near the pipeline without excavation or trenching. Leaks on an asset are detected by the use of edge analytics and central machine learning algorithms.

Read the full story here.

29 Aug 2017

BSEE Reports Production Shut-In of 18% in Gulf of Mexico

From Oil and Gas Facilities

Update 8/29: From operator reports as of 11:30 a.m. CDT on 29 August, an estimated 18% of the current oil production of 1.75 million B/D in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut in, which equates to 319,523 B/D. Approximately 19% of the natural gas production of 3,220 MMcf/d, or 615 MMcf/d in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut in. This reflects a 1% decrease in oil shut-ins and a 1% increase in gas shut-ins since yesterday’s report.

Original article 8/28: Personnel have been evacuated from a total of 102 production platforms, 14% of the 737 manned platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. This reflects evacuations from an additional four platforms.

From operator reports, an estimated 19% of the current oil production of 1.75 million B/D in the Gulf of Mexico has been shut in, which equates to 331,370 B/D. Approximately 18% of the natural gas production of 3,220 MMcf/d, or 583 MMcf/d, has been shut in as a result of Hurricane Harvey.

Yellow dots mark the locations of platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. Credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The production percentages are calculated using information submitted by offshore operators in daily reports. Shut-in production information included in these reports is based on the amount of oil and gas the operator expected to produce that day.

Based on data from the reports submitted as of 11:30 CDT on 28 August, personnel have been evacuated from a total of 98 production platforms, 13% of the 737 manned platforms in the Gulf.

Personnel have been evacuated from five nondynamically positioned rigs, or approximately 50% of the 10 rigs of this type currently operating. Of the 21 dynamically positioned DP rigs operating, none have moved off location out of the storm’s path as a precaution.

After the storm has passed, facilities will be inspected. Once all standard checks have been completed, production from undamaged facilities will be brought back on line immediately.

28 Aug 2017

Southwestern Energy Operations Become Freshwater Neutral

Southwestern Energy has become freshwater neutral as an operating company, making good on a corporate pledge to reduce freshwater use and replenish all fresh water used, explained Rowlan Greaves, a manager on Southwestern’s strategic solutions team, to a meeting of the SPE Gulf Coast Section’s Northside Interest Group.

This stream was restored by Southwestern Energy in Conway County, Arkansas. Credit: Southwestern Energy.

The water initiative began with a 2013 commitment by Southwestern’s then chief executive officer, Steven Mueller, that the company, by 2016, would offset its freshwater footprint barrel for barrel through conservation projects in an economically feasible manner that provides value to communities neighboring the company’s operations and to the environment.

Southwestern’s initiative to achieve and maintain freshwater neutrality in its operations comprises four components.

  • Reduction of water use through reviewing practices, developing improved solutions, and implementing new techniques and tools in fracturing operations to optimize water use.
  • Conservation through working with state agencies, municipalities, nongovernmental organizations, and other industries to enhance water quality and develop conservation projects that affect local watersheds.
  • Protection of water resources to minimize the effect of operations on natural resources and watersheds where the company works.
  • Innovation, by which the company pursues technologies to provide new means of water treatment or new ways of replacing water.

The team on which Greaves serves has been responsible for spearheading the initiative by setting annual goals and working with operations to achieve them. “It doesn’t get done without operations,” he said.

Read the full story here.

17 Aug 2017

Seven Steps to Safer Operations

Reducing job-site injuries and safety hazards is the ultimate goal for many health and safety professionals. Unlike those in office jobs, field operators and field service technicians face safety hazards on a daily basis. Whether it is the risks of being on the road or the very real perils of working with wind turbines or oil rigs, their jobs come with more than their fair share of safety concerns.

Credit: Getty Images.

Of course, safety is important not only for people’s wellbeing but also for a business’s bottom line. A 2016 National Safety Council report showed the average cost of a minor workplace injury to be 16 times higher than the cost of prevention and as much as 48 times greater for serious injuries or fatalities. Shockingly, 78% of safety professionals are still using outdated methods to manage safety tasks, and, as a result, only 19% are being notified of safety hazards in real time.

A study published by the American Society of Safety Engineers found that investment in safety programs and cloud technology yield between USD 2 and 6 in return for every USD 1 invested, with an average safety return on investment (ROI) of USD 4.14. Furthermore, a strong injury- and illness-prevention program has shown to achieve a 15–35% reduction in workplace injuries.

As companies look to digitize their paper-based safety audit programs, inspections, observations, work permit procedures, or other operational processes, there are seven key steps:

Step 1—Define Goals
The first step is to define your goals for success and the substeps required to achieve those goals. Plan it out on a white board first if you need to, then operationalize the plan by sharing it with all stakeholders. Remember that forms, checklists, or outputs that were defined on paper do not need to be so rigid on mobile devices and that, in going digital, your contractors and employees gain the ability to assess work metrics.

Step 2—Engage Field Operators Early in the Process
Involve your key field employees earlier in the vetting of new technology so you can get their support and feedback. As a safety manager, it is understood that your employees are ultimately your customers, but the ideal is to involve them from the beginning so that there are no waves or conflict down the line when it is too expensive to go back. This also enables you to socialize your vision and goals, get engagement, and prevent a top-down mentality. Remember that employee engagement is directly correlated with the level of involvement they have in their work processes and activities.

Step 3—Consider the Motivating Factors and Barriers
People are more likely to complete a task when they have the skills, time, materials, knowledge, and motivation to do so, and things tend to fall apart when employees feel the procedure is useless. So make sure that what you are doing is really producing tangible results.

As an example, consider the use of a checklist (digital or otherwise). Is it better to have people pencil whip a 26-item checklist every day or thoughtfully use a five-item checklist once per week? If employees complete the checklist, do they know whether anyone looks at the information and uses it? Does data show that the workplace is safer when employees use this checklist compared to when they do not? Is there any acknowledgment for completing the checklist? If completing or not completing the checklists gets the same response from the boss (i.e., none), people will stop using it. Employees need to understand the tangible value of their actions and that people are paying attention.

Step 4—Pilot and Repeat
A good process can be ruined by poor implementation, and supervisors must be brought on board to help support the implementation. Having employees modify a given process (e.g., checklists, observations, work permits) improves buy-in and increase usage. After digitizing your process, be sure to pilot it with a small group and ask for more feedback, then deploy the new and improved version.

Step 5—Make the Data Actionable
Going paperless provides a canvas that can be flexible and actionable. Defining the problem you want to solve and having a flexible solution can provide managers or supervisors with the ability to view safety audits, work permit procedures, and field observations in a new light. The goal of any safety audit process, for example, is to identity issues before they actually occur. By assessing the data and trending it over time, managers can get visibility into issues well before things go in the red.

Step 6—Enforce Accountability and Visibility
Create a process that holds everyone accountable for being visibly involved, especially managers and supervisors. They are the leaders for a positive change, and true digital transformation cannot occur without visibility and accountability.

Step 7—Celebrate Success
Make your efforts public to keep everyone motivated and updated throughout the process, and be sure to reward employees for their contributions to this endeavor. If everyone feels good about what has been achieved, then everyone will work that much harder to keep it going.

Don’t Forget To Be Patient
Digital transformation takes time, but remember that, because your ultimate goal is to improve the safety of your employees and your workplace, the ROI for this undertaking is massive. When your company culture is safety, you cannot afford to sit back and let technological opportunities pass you by. Be sure to define your goals, get field operators involved early in the process, keep people motivated by connecting change to results, get feedback to improve the process, make sure the data is actionable, enforce accountability, and celebrate success.

15 Aug 2017

Real-Time Decision Making—Incorporating Dynamic Risk Management

This paper introduces dynamic risk modeling and reports on a 2016 proof-of-concept demonstration of the emergent capability.  While dynamic risk modeling can apply in any high-risk environment, the demonstration focuses on the high-pressure/high-temperature drilling environment and uses 2010 Macondo cumulative risk as a demonstration scenario.

Dynamic risk modeling integrates the effect of human decisions with technical conditions. It enables three evolutionary capabilities in risk management:

  • The awareness of cumulative and current risk based on input from multiple points and times of origin
  • The quantitative insight of the coupling effect of multiple hazards when barriers or controls change conditions or fail
  • The incorporation of real-time data into risk awareness, management and decisions

The paper demonstrates enhancement of the digital oil field by applying real-time data to predictive decision making. The model receives continuous well data, processes it through the model with other environmental and human factors, and translates it into real-time risk awareness and insight.

The demonstration of dynamic risk modeling is applied to the Deepwater Horizon drilling environment in April 2010 to show how a real-time representation of current and cumulative risk could have aided decision makers with critical information and insight.

Find the paper on the HSSE-SR Technical Discipline Page free for a limited time.

14 Aug 2017

Industry Innovation Boosts Local Communities and Spans the Globe

According to Investopedia, in 2015, the oil and gas industry accounted for between 4.6 and 6.5% of the global economy. In a recent discussion I had with a friend, we spoke about the effect this industry has on the lives of so many people. Many of the effects are positive, and, as we see in the current discussions of climate change, some are potentially negative. As Janeen Judah, 2017 SPE president, stated in her April 2017 JPT column, we have the power to build sustainable communities and improve the lives of people where we operate. Our innovation across all aspects of health, safety, security, environment, and social responsibility not only helps our industry reduce the chances, or consequences, of unplanned events but also may help develop the capacity of a country or village to take care of its own citizens.

Some of these recent improvements can be seen in the papers that follow, from understanding well control and human factors better to using robotics to remove people from hazardous environments. We also see increasing interest in effects on the environment from our activities in the form of publicly funded studies on the potential for groundwater contamination. At the 2017 SPE Health, Safety, Security, Environment, and Social Responsibility Conference—North America, held in April in New Orleans, we held a series of plenary discussions on the science of the human brain, on social interactions, and on how to apply this knowledge to improve our performance. Our industry is conducting some amazing research and development, and the tools and processes we develop will help us, and the world, to better develop and use the natural resources we need now and in the future.

This Month’s Technical Papers
Company Integrates Human Factors Into Corporate Well-Control Manual

Integrated Simulation Increases Efficiency of Deepwater Risk Management

Company’s Integrated Approach Tackles Fatigue Management

Robot Removes Operators From Extreme Environments

Risk Assessment of Fluid Migration Into Freshwater Aquifers in Colorado Basins

Building Relationships With a Marginalized Community in Iraq

Recommended Additional Reading
SPE 181109 Monitoring of Nontechnical Barriers by S. Næss, Statoil, et al.

SPE 183117 iRisk: A New Practical Guide to Cross-Functional Risk Leadership in Oil and Gas Megaprojects by Zarina Kenzhetayeva, Maersk Oil Kazakhstan, et al.

SPE 183595 Whole Systems Analysis of a High-Reliability Organization by C.O. Chukwunta, Imperial College London

SPE 185188 Developing Regulations Concerning Dispersant Use—A Recommended Good-Practice Approach by T.S. Coolbaugh, ExxonMobil, et al.

IPTC 18827 The Survey for Prevention of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders Among Workers Performing Manual Material-Handling Work by A. Thongpradit, PTT Exploration and Production, et al.

SPE 180365 Dynamic Considerations for Induced Seismicity by Robert L. Walker, University of Southern California, et al.

OTC 27750 Use of a Cybersecurity Laboratory in Support of the Virtual-Vessel Concept To Increase Safety Onboard Marine and Offshore Assets by Naveen Selvam, ABS, et al.

Tom Knode, SPE, is the director of health, safety, and envi­ronment (HSE) for Athlon Solutions. He previously worked on contract for Statoil, with Contek Solutions, and with Halliburton for 25 years. Knode has had regional and global responsibilities for the oversight of HSE with an interest in HSE leadership and improving efficiencies and performance. He was the Technical Director of Health, Safety, Security, Environment, and Social Responsibility for SPE from 2008 to 2011, has been cochairperson of five SPE HSE conferences, and has coauthored nearly 20 technical papers and articles, including for JPT. Knode holds a BS degree in geology from Texas Christian University and an MS degree in geology from The University of Texas at Arlington. He is a member of the JPT Editorial Committee and can be reached at tom.knode@athlonsolutions.com.