Major interruptions last year prompted everyone to reinvent safety strategies.
I remember a conversation I had with a friend a few years ago who just became the plant manager of the largest petrochemical complex in the world. I asked him what keeps him up at night, he said without hesitation. “Safety!”. This certainly resonates with every plant manager around the world. However, several major interruptions in 2020 should prompt us to rethink and reinvent safety strategies.
Safety is a top priority in the oil & gas industry
Like any businesses, oil & gas business performance is measured by profitability with KPIs like ROCE (Return on Capital Employed), but equally important is Safety, typically measured by KPIs like injury, lost time, production loss. For oil & gas operations, safety is a constant threat due to the hazardous nature of hydrocarbons that includes fire, explosion, toxicity, corrosiveness, and asphyxiation. Industrial incidents can cause human lives and huge financial losses. They often generate major environmental pollution that make the media headlines. Essentially safety is the license to operate.
Safety is Sustainability
Environmental, health and safety are usually bundled together as a corporate KPI. Safety and environmental compliance regulations are increasingly stringent for the most part of the world, especially pressure from sustainability. With the Covid-19 pandemic, safety also meant workers' health and wellness. Remote working and operation became a norm and a solution. Digitalization offers tremendous opportunity for oil & gas companies to improve safety and sustainability throughout the entire lifecycle of the plant.
Cybersecurity is Digital Safety
According to a Morgan Stanley survey, Cybersecurity is by far the number one concern for adoption of IIoT/Digital transformation; cybersecurity must be addressed before implementing digital transformation. Another IT survey also stated 70% of the employees do not understand cybersecurity and average cost of breach is $3.8 M. Aside from financial and intellectual property loss, cybersecurity intrusion can easily compromise plant safety in terms of malicious intent to cause hazardous process conditions and destabilizes the automation system. Considering the average days pass between breach discovery and reporting date is 49.6 days, this is literally the worst nightmare for plant operations.
Safety relies on People, Process, and Technology
Many CEOs will tell you the most important company asset is people. Safety culture is top down and starts with people. People are needed to execute work but people make mistakes. Process is a series of procedure/workflow to achieve a goal, and strong processes ensure consistency. The limit of process consistency does not necessarily generate efficiency and quality. Technology helps innovation and technology automate the process. However, too much technology discouraged users from adopting them. Ultimately, technology is there to support people and process and make them easier.
Most Oil & Gas operations depend on “Swiss cheese model” layer approach to mitigate and prevent risk
Industrial incidents occurred usually due to holes in the Swiss cheese model when each layer fails to prevent and deter the accident from getting closer to happening. Example of Process Safety layers can be process control systems, safety systems, standard operating procedure, training, reliability inspection audits, maintenance rounds and checks, management controls etc.
Safety is a lifecycle strategy
The proven way to improve safety is through prevention and mitigation across the lifecycle of the plant – Design, Built, Operate, Inspect, Maintain. We will review the five lifecycle strategies from the viewpoint of Process Safety, Cybersecurity and Electrical Safety.
In this blog, we will focus on three aspects of safety within the oil & gas, petrochemical industry: Process Safety, Cybersecurity. Electrical Safety
Five Process Safety & Cybersecurity lifecycle strategies:
Similar to Process Safety, Electrical Safety also depends on layer approach to mitigate and prevent risk. The most effective electrical safety strategy is prevention. The goal is to protect people & prevent fire.
Five Electrical Safety lifecycle strategies:
Safety will always remain the top priority for oil & gas companies, but safety should also evolve with emerging trends like sustainability, cybersecurity, and the pandemic. Oil & gas companies will have the opportunity to reinvent safety strategies with the help of digital technologies.
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