Emergency Response in the Oil and Gas Industry with a Next-Generation EHS Solution
Blog | July 22nd, 2021

Emergency Response in the Oil and Gas Industry with a Next-Generation EHS Solution

In 2021, the Gulf of Mexico is expected to face 17 storms, 8 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes. According to a Reuters report, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasts three to five major hurricanes this year with sustained winds of at least 111 miles per hour (178 kph). The hurricane season forces the shutdown of the offshore and onshore infrastructure leading to losses but is essential to protect the workers, both employees and contractors and critical assets.

As part of risk mitigation, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) expects the industry to meet Safety and Environmental Management Systems (SEMS) requirements. As per the standards, companies performing offshore work are required to put in place emergency response and control procedures that encompass guidelines for addressing hurricane threats.

Increased communication with government agencies and other industries, hardening of refinery units, and repositioning equipment to avoid floodwaters apart from removing all workers from the premises form a part of the overall emergency response plan.

Contractors are also expected to comply with SEMS requirements and develop their own emergency response plans. This necessitates improved collaboration between the contractors and the asset owners to collaborate proactively for implementing safety programs and policies for working offshore and avoid confusion in an emergency situation.

The emergency response also covers post-hurricane damage assessment and evaluation of safe return-to-work. The entire process of emergency response must be data and fact-driven, as much as possible. It should also offer insights for risk management in the future.

Broadly, the emergency response to hurricanes includes reviewing data related to the hurricane, how it will impact the waves, when and from where the hurricane will enter, calculating the safest departure time and making quick decisions as further meteorological information becomes available. Evacuation and shutdown are typically initiated almost a week before the hurricane.

The post-storm activities include inspection of pipes, pumps and process facilities. The damages can range from:

  • Platforms and caissons leaning, toppling or being destroyed
  • Rigs, barges and workboats may have been grounded or capsized
  • Rigs that have been torn from their moorings and are adrift
  • Damage to flowlines and pipelines due to a dragged anchor or mudslides
  • The topside equipment such as pumps, tank batteries and power generators damaged due to water
  • Damage or destruction of helicopter stations, cranes, drilling rigs and other equipment

The Changing Face of the Oil and Gas Industry

Natural disasters apart, the oil and gas industry faces several other challenges too. OSHA lists hazards for which the industry must put in safety and risk mitigation measures:

  • Vehicle Collisions
  • Struck-By/Caught-In/Caught-Between
  • Explosions and Fires
  • Falls
  • Confined Spaces
  • Ergonomic Hazards
  • High-Pressure Lines and Equipment
  • Electrical and Other Hazardous Energy
  • Machine Hazards
  • Planning and Prevention

According to the American Petroleum Institute, the American oil and gas industry alone employs around 10.3 million people and impacts its surrounding communities and the environment. A leading standards-setting body — its standards span all activities of the industry for improving personnel and public safety.

In addition to covering the areas listed by OSHA, it also gives importance to training, pandemic planning, exploration, production safety and onshore safety.

It also provides guidance on Oil Spills & Emergency Preparedness and Response including:

  • First Responder Training
  • Oil Spill Prevention and Response
  • Emergency Response

Data is the New Oil (even in the Oil & Gas Industry!)

Manual efforts to ensure safety across its operations and in different geographic locations can make implementing and managing environmental, health and safety processes a nightmare for oil and gas companies. It needs a very data-driven approach for:

  • Visibility into processes
  • Identifying potential risks
  • Assigning scores
  • Prioritizing risks based on the severity
  • Identifying controls
  • Assigning responsibilities
  • Ensuring timely response
  • Incident management in the event of an accident
  • Feedback gathering
  • Implementing continuous improvement

It requires the integration of modern, Industry 4.0 technologies such as cloud, AI/ML, IoT and analytics to provide cost-effective automation solutions to minimize human error and improve efficiency. These technologies facilitate making informed decisions keeping the focus on customers, stakeholders, employees and assets, and provide the following benefits:

  • Enhanced customer engagement
  • Empowered workforce
  • Rise of digital communication and collaboration
  • Personalized and agile tools

Engaging beyond the enterprise

This blog is based on the webinar Hurricane Preparedness: Emergency and Risk Management for Oil and Gas – ComplianceQuest QHSE Solutions by Jason Olbekson, Energy Advisor and GTM Director at Salesforce.com, Gavin Baboolall, Director of Marketing-EHS, ComplianceQuest.

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Emergency Programs Management and Response with ComplianceQuest

One such cloud-based, EHS automation solution is the one from ComplianceQuest. Built on the Salesforce platform, it helps with proactive and reactive management of emergencies.

Proactive Approach: It enables businesses to approach safety measures proactively to prevent any eventualities as well as react in a timely manner in case of any incidents. The Proactive approach includes taking the scope, background and summary to create emergency programs that consist of several individual plans, each with several actions for specific individuals within the organization. This has associated documentation and training so that all the individuals come up to speed by going through the documentation and by being trained appropriately.

Risk Management: The EHS Software’s Risk Management feature enables understanding the associated risks, which could be at the operational, enterprise or job level, documenting it and analyzing what individual action needs to be taken at that specific site. It facilitates constant monitoring and updating of the information.

Reactive Response: In the reactive approach, the solution allows the employees to report any incidents that may happen at the site itself. While the employee fills in the details about the incident on the mobile or any device, the system pulls other information such as the location, the weather and other relevant data. The information is taken through an associated workflow specific to the organization and could include reviewing and triaging, validation of all the available information, investigations and approvals at multiple levels.

Configurable Solution: Since this is built on the Salesforce platform, configurability is the key, giving room for customization to suit each individual organization’s needs and workflow. As all the details are available in the system, this also helps with the automatic generation of regulatory reports and regulatory submissions. It can also be loaded into the HR system and used to calculate the total cost.

Other Capabilities:

  • The investigation results can also help with understanding the root cause, initiating CAPA and improving the processes to prevent recurrence of incidents in the future.
  • A library of “lessons learned” contains all incident-related documents and can be referenced across any solution.
  • The Chatter feature allows individual conversations about specific records and sharing with individuals and groups to ensure all are up to speed and are equally prepared to prevent future events wherever they may be.
  • Another important area, especially in the post-pandemic world, is the Permit to Work that is given to any contractor to perform specific tasks. The ComplianceQuest EHS can help you manage the contractors with greater efficiency.
  • The solution offers a dashboard view where safety leaders can slice and dice data easily, get detailed information on incidents and use different filters to drill deeper.
  • It is analytics-driven and can provide a holistic view by referencing it across functions, including quality and environment perspectives.
  • It can link across the supply chain and enable identifying any challenges to safety at that end.

To know more about how the ComplianceQuest EHS can empower your oil and gas operations to manage EHS during normal and emergency times, contact us now: https://www.compliancequest.com/contact-us/

Or visit: https://www.compliancequest.com/industry/oil-and-gas/

This blog is based on the webinar Hurricane Preparedness: Emergency and Risk Management for Oil and Gas – ComplianceQuest QHSE Solutions by Jason Olbekson, Energy Advisor and GTM Director at Salesforce.com, Gavin Baboolall, Director of Marketing-EHS, ComplianceQuest.

View the complete webinar here: https://www.compliancequest.com/webinar/hurricane-emergency-risk-management-oil-gas/

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