Safety & security: ‘no compromise or complacency’ Gordon assures global industry forum

‘No matter what part of the market cycle the industry finds itself in – good times or bad – operational safety and security remain our top priorities,’ IOGP Executive Director Gordon Ballard told the World Petroleum Congress at its recent Istanbul meeting.

Gordon was there – along with 5,000 other participants from 65 countries – to focus on a wide range of topics, including leadership, high standards, ethical business practices and the vital role of oil and gas in the world’s energy future. More specifically, Gordon led a safety and security panel discussion.

Other participants were:

  • Monika Hausenblas, Shell’s Executive Vice President Safety & Environment (and IOGP Management Committee Chair)
  • Abdul Hameed Al-Rushaid, Saudi Aramco’s Executive Director, Drilling & Workover
  • Leo Simonovich, Vice President, Global Cyber Strategy, Siemens
  • Charlie Williams II, Chair of the Governing Board for the Center for Offshore Safety

‘Together, we explored the challenges the industry faces in E&P operations – and the opportunities we can seize to make our business safer and more sustainable in a world that will still rely on oil and gas for decades to come,’ Gordon recalls.

Gordon began the session by recounting IOGP’s initiatives following the Montara and Deepwater Horizon incidents in 2010.

‘By setting up the Global Industry Response Group (GIRG), we focused on three core areas – the prevention of similar incidents, effective intervention if they should occur, and response to mitigate their impact,’ Gordon said. The GIRG drew on the experience and talents of more than 100 technical experts and senior managers drawn from some 20 companies and organizations, he said, calculating that during the nine-month period of the GIRG’s operation, the value of all that freely-donated expertise came to tens of millions of dollars.

GIRG’s recommendations, published in May 2011, led to the creation of three entities to manage and implement them:

  • IOGP’s Wells Expert Committee, with its emphasis on safe operations and improved blow-out-preventer performance
  • The independent Subsea Well Response Project (SWRP) – a consortium of operators that designed and delivered a global capability to shut in wells and explore the potential of hardware for subsea injection of dispersants
  • A joint industry project (JIP) of 19 funding members focusing on oil spill response including dispersant use, response methodologies and risk assessment models and in-situ burning

All three entities are still going strong, he said.

Even so, the need for innovation and rigour in safety and security continues, Gordon stressed. Citing evidence of this need, he referred to the recent publication of ‘what’s come to be regarded as IOGP’s flagship publication: our annual Safety performance indicators report. This 31st edition is based on the analysis of 2.9 million work hours of data across 103 countries, submitted by 43 of IOGP’s operating companies. The results were mixed,’ he noted. ‘While the number of fatalities went down from 54 in 2015 to 50 in 2016, so did the number of hours worked – by 22%. So, against that background, the fatal accident rate has gone up by 19% compared with 2015.

To help tackle this ‘unwelcome indicator’, Gordon described an initiative by IOGP’s Safety Committee called Project Safira. Working with other Industry bodies we are developing a series of tangible guides, actions and behaviours designed to eliminate fatalities from our Industry. We at IOGP believe it is unacceptable that fatalities are still happening in the workplace in 2017, and so we are moving from a position of zero fatalities as an aspiration, to zero fatalities as a minimum expectation,’ he said.

Moving on to security, Gordon said ‘Given the state of geo-politics, you won’t be surprised to hear that we’ve been busy on that front as well. You’ll also understand that some of our work has to remain confidential. But in the public domain are two recent reports covering security assessments and country evacuation plans,’ he told his WPC audience.

Looking back on the event, Gordon commented on the high quality of the panel presentations and the enthusiastic commitment of the audience. ‘There was a real focus on how our industry can seize opportunities to make our business safer and more sustainable in a world that will still rely on oil and gas for decades to come,’ Gordon said. ‘Meanwhile, I look forward to the next WPC in Houston in 2020. There, I’m confident that we’ll be able to report on operational safety and security challenges met and opportunities maximized.’

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