An effective HSE program is characterized by no injury to people, no loss of property, and no harm to the environment. Great HSE performance is anindication of great leadership. It is much more than statistics, although measurements are necessary to facilitate performance improvement. HSE must be considered a core responsibility for all business participants, operators, contractors, and service companies and be accepted by all individuals on a personal basis. It is imperative that all parties are committed from the top management down throughout their organizations.
The main reasons companies in the current era support strong HSE programs include humanitarian reasons (i.e., not hurting people), legal or regulatory requirements, the company’s public image, employee morale, and economic reasons (i.e., loss of business or the cost of poor HSE performance).
The modern era of HSE management for oil field operations began with the Piper Alpha disaster in the North Sea, where 167 men lost their lives in one incident. The subsequent investigation, conducted and published by Lord Cullen, contained the framework of HSE management embodied in much subsequent legislation and regulation. This was the birth of safety cases for oil field facilities, including offshore MODU drilling rigs.
One of the key recommendations was that companies should have safety management systems (SMSs) that control a company’s operations from top to bottom. The systems were recommended to include the elements of ISO 9001 (a standard for management of quality in organizations) and include elements such as management responsibility and commitment, design control, documentation and procedures, process control, control of non conformance, corrective actions, internal auditing, and training. All the elements of a safety management system are not directly applicable to drilling optimization and are therefore not addressed here.
Examples include emergency response plans and oil spill response procedures that companies should have in place as part of their normal procedures.
Generally, each drilling department should have a set of operating guidelines that control the drilling work processes. The operating guidelines are a subset of the SMSs, and the documents may vary from multivolume sets at the major oil companies to much smaller documents for smaller companies.
The drilling engineer is responsible for ensuring that all his work complies with these guidance instructions. Variations from these procedures usually will require a higher level of management approval.
The three components of HSE-related drilling issues that are normally considered during drilling operations are discussed separately in the following sections.
Health issues related to drilling operations can include industrial hygiene issues related to onsite conditions and may include exposures to drilling fluid components such as oil-base mud fumes and skin contact, highly toxic completion brines, or oils, gas, and toxic materials such as hydrogen sulfide originating from the well. Naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) can also be encountered during workover operations, and metals such as mercury are encountered periodically in gas
streams and may be found in production separators.An optimized drilling program includes careful consideration of the health impact on employees
and workers at any well site.
The general safety culture adapted in the current era was derived from the Dont manufacturing culture and adapted to oil field operations when the company purchased Conoco. Dont was originally in the dynamite manufacturing business, and serious accidents in the past strongly motivated management to adopt a “best practice” approach to safety management.
The primary concept is that all accidents are preventable. Accidents do not just happen, and with work, resources, and management commitment, accidents can be minimized or eliminated. In most all oil companies and service companies, management personnel leave no doubt that they are committed to providing a safe working environment. A poor safety record leads to the suffering of injured employees, the financial impact of lawsuits, and the loss of business and shareholder support. It is not unusual for service companies to be removed from approved bidding lists if the safety performance is not up to the company’s requirements. The second
concept generally accepted is that safety (or HSE) must be considered equally with production and profits in the decision-making process. “Safety first” is
not plausible. If we wanted to only be safe, we would never leave the comfort of our homes in the first place. Safety must be considered as an equal
to other factors in the decision-making process to ensure that all jobs meet the company’s safety goals.
Safety management is an engineering profession unto itself, with many disciplines and areas of coverage. For the drilling engineer or drilling foreman, safety at the well site is accomplished through sound engineering, formal safety reviews (as appropriate), contracting of reputable firms with strong safety cultures, and appropriate training of all personnel.
Operational risks for drilling operations can vary from simple, shallow onshore jobs to extremely complex offshore operations in remote hostile areas that can be extremely expensive and carry significant risk. Consequently, a “fit for purpose” approach must be considered for the safety management of each operation. A simple onshore job may rely completely on the drilling contract and include relatively simple tools such as a toolbox safety discussion and daily safety meeting. At the other end of the
scale, in large offshore production platforms with simultaneous operation of wells and drilling in a remote or hostile area, a large amount of safety engineering may be required. Tools may include a full safety case preparation and hazard and operability (HAZOP) studies . A HAZOP study is an examination procedure. Its purpose is to identify all possible deviations from the way in which a design is expected to work and to identify all the hazards associated with these deviations. When deviations
arise that result in hazards, actions are generated that require design engineers to review and suggest solutions to remove the hazard or reduce its risk to an acceptable level. These solutions are reviewed and accepted by the HAZOP team before implementation. HAZOP techniques have been adopted by many countries and are required to provide assurance of safe operations.
It should be understood by all operation personnel that 96% of all accidents are related to unsafe behaviors and that only 4% of accidents are caused by unsafe conditions. Most drilling contractors have adopted policies that focus on encouraging safe behaviors.
Dramatic changes in environmental impact management have occurred continually from the earliest days of the oil field. Common practice in the early days was to produce oil into open pits for storage. Saltwater was routinely dumped into the nearest creek, killing everything in it. Today’s best practices include serious management and minimization of all waste streams. Development of projects today may require full environmental impact assessments (EIA) before approval. The first legal requirement in
the United States for an EIA was imposed on the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline, which was delayed for years and experienced cost overruns from an initial
estimate of $900 million to a final installed cost of $9 billion. Today, most of the East and West coastlines of the United States and Florida are off limits
for drilling because of environmental concerns. The Exxon Valdez incident will not leave the collective public memory any time soon and is an example of the negative impact to the environment from oil and gas operations.
Most companies have management systems in place for environmental management of their operations. Drilling personnel are responsible for planning and conducting operations to ensure optimization and compliance.
1. Drilling Equipment and Operation.
2. drilling Operation.