Published on Feb 7, 2017
The Crude Life Interview: Bill Wren, The University of Texas at Austin
Bill Wren, The University of Texas at Austin, explains how The University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory and the collaboration with the Permian Basin Petroleum Association (PBPA) and the Texas Oil and Gas Association (TXOGA) to reduce light shining into the sky from drilling rigs and related activities in West Texas. The excess light has the potential to drown out the light from stars and galaxies and threatens to reduce the effectiveness of the observatory’s research telescopes to study the mysteries of the universe.
Source: The Crude Life Content Network
Washington — OSHA has published a fact sheet intended to help employers comply with the agency’s standard on worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica (1910.1053) for general industry and maritime.
The fact sheet highlights steps employers are required to take to protect employees, including assessing workplace exposures, establishing written exposure control plans and providing worker training.
The final rule lowers the permissible exposure limit for respirable crystalline silica for all industries to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged during an 8-hour shift.
Crystalline silica is a known carcinogen found in sand, stone and artificial stone. Exposure to silica dust can trigger silicosis, a chronic disease that involves scarring of the lungs. OSHA estimates that 2.3 million workers are exposed to the dust, including 2 million in construction.
OSHA issued its final rule as separate standards – one for construction and one for general industry and maritime. Both standards went into effect in June 2016; however, general industry and maritime have until June 23 to comply, except in the following areas:
Medical surveillance must be available by June 23, 2020, to employees who will be exposed to levels at or above the action level of 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air averaged during an 8-hour shift for 30 or more days a year.
Hydraulic fracturing operations in the oil and gas industry must institute – by June 23, 2021 – dust controls to limit exposures to the new PEL.
Few man made disasters are more destructive than oil spills or fuel leakages. Unfortunately, there has so far not been any reliable solution to mitigate or remedy these costly mistakes. But that can finally change with S’One Environment, our large-scale application of the revolutionary SIAAB-1 hydrocarbon neutralization biotech. Used to prevent fire and explosions in airplanes and road vehicles, the technology turns hydrocarbon-based fuels into an inert, solid-state sand like compound – in fractions of a second. S’One Environment uses this property to neutralize fuel spills in seashores, rivers, lakes or oceans, with staggering speed and efficiency: 500 liters (132 gallons) of S’One liquid can neutralize up to 50,000 liters of fuel, in about four hours and over an area of 11 km radius of water. The system is built for high portability and durability, which makes it easy to install and operate on offshore drilling platforms, oil tankers, petroleum trains, or even gas stations. The S’One stores 500 liters of SIAAB-1 liquid and provides fast delivery via a high capacity compressor and a turbine. It requires little to no maintenance, and it is fully reusable throughout the many years of its lifetime.
Inspections in the oil & gas industry can be a costly, dangerous job. Learn how the #Intel Falcon 8+ is reducing injury risk and creating cost savings. Subscribe now to Intel Business on YouTube: http://intel.ly/intelitcenteryt About Intel Business: Get all the IT info you need, right here. From data center to devices, the Intel® Business Center has the resources, guidance, and expert insights you need to get your IT projects done right. Connect with Intel Business: Visit Intel Business’s WEBSITE: http://intel.ly/itcenter Follow Intel Business on TWITTER: https://twitter.com/IntelITCenter Follow Intel Business on LINKEDIN: https://www.linkedin.com/company/it-c… Follow Intel Business on FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/IntelBusiness Intel Falcon 8+ Drone transforms inspections conducted in the oil and gas industry | Intel Business https://www.youtube.com/intelitcenter
Youtube Published on Nov 16, 2017
- Robotics projects announced with both Sonomatic and University of Strathclyde
- Technologies focus on reducing cost and improving safety of vessel inspection
- Next Asset Integrity ‘Call for Ideas’ seeks corrosion under insulation solutions
The Oil & Gas Technology Centre has invested in three robotics projects to transform pressure vessel inspection, which costs the industry hundreds of millions each year and poses significant safety challenges.
The projects were selected as part of our first Asset Integrity ‘Call for Ideas’, which launched in 2017. Pressure vessel inspection was identified by the industry as a crucial challenge to maximising economic recovery from the UK Continental Shelf.
Non-intrusive inspection (NII) of pressure vessels can deliver significant cost and safety benefits. Sonomatic’s aim is to develop the next generation of robotic NII technology, with improved speed, agility and autonomy compared with existing systems. The robot, incorporating advanced inspection technologies, will help increase production uptime, reduce costs and improve efficiency.
Separately, we’re working with the University of Strathclyde to develop a new robot crawler equipped with 3D laser scanning and non-destructive testing technology. Existing crawlers are typically deployed only when there is clear line-of-sight for the operator. The University’s solution will construct a virtual, dynamic 3D representation of the inspection site meaning it can be operated safely from a remote location.
We’re also supporting the University of Strathclyde in the use of swarms of small unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, for visual inspection offshore. Drone swarms, which are being rapidly adopted by the military and for logistics activities, could deliver a safe, flexible and cost-effective alternative to human inspection.
In March 2018, we launch our second Asset Integrity Call for Ideas, focused on predicting, preventing, detecting and repairing corrosion under insulation. More information will be communicated in the coming weeks.
Rebecca Allison, Asset Integrity Solution Centre Manager, said:
“From day one, developing and deploying new technology for pressure vessel inspection has been a key focus area for the Oil & Gas Technology Centre. We’re delighted to be investing in robotics projects with Sonomatic and the University of Strathclyde, which we believe can significantly reduce costs, improve efficiency and enhance safety.
“Process vessel inspection and corrosion under insulation cost the industry more than £300 million each year so it is important that our first two Calls for Ideas focus on these challenges. We’re always looking for innovative ideas and concepts from inside and outside the oil and gas industry and look forward to launching our next Call in March.”
Mark Stone, Integrity Services Manager, Sonomatic, said:
“We’re excited to be working with the Oil & Gas Technology Centre to develop the next generation of robotic inspection tools for non-intrusive inspection. There have been significant advances in robotics technology, inspection solutions and data science over the past few years and the support from the Technology Centre will ensure these are soon available in a practical tool for field application.”
Willie Reid, Director of the Strathclyde Oil and Gas Institute, said:
“The robotics team at Strathclyde, led by Dr Gordon Dobie and Dr Erfu Yang, are excited to be working with the Oil & Gas Technology Centre on these challenges for improving inspection for offshore asset integrity.
“In a multi-disciplinary approach, they will use the broad experience of both the Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering and also the Department of Design, Manufacture and Engineering Management. We will also utilise our experience in transferring technology from other sectors into oil and gas.”
Detecting methane gas leaks is serious business—for both worker safety and the energy industry’s bottom line. But manual emissions inspections are time-consuming and costly to execute. To deliver on the promise of a new highly efficient drone-based leak detection system, SeekOps needed a mobile solution that was reliable, versatile, rugged and easy to read in the field.
SeekOps turned to the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1 tablet for its streamlined size, extensive battery life, rugged dependability and easy screen readability in bright sunlight. The unparalleled durability and portability of the Toughpad FZ-G1 enables the SeekOps technology platform to bring fast, accurate and cost-effective detection of methane gas leaks to the industry.
“There’s really nothing on the market that could contend with these devices,” said Andrew Aubrey, CEO of SeekOps, “And we knew when we took it out into the field, that we had made the right mobile hardware choice.”
To see Panasonic and SeekOps together in action, watch the video below:
The nonprofit research Partnership to Secure Energy for America (RPSEA) has unveiled a comprehensive 10-year plan for advancing research into sustainable oil and gas technology that aims to help cement the status of the U.S. as a leading global producer well into the future.
The wish list of research needs addresses a diverse roster of topics that ranges widely from studies on streamlining the development of offshore reservoirs to improving well recovery in shale plays and advancing environmentally sensitive practices.
“No one knows what the energy industry will look like in the next 10 years, but we do know in order to maintain our leadership position, the United States must compete on a global basis, (and) take full advantage of rapidly evolving technology and address the variety of challenges we will face,” RPSEA President Tom Williams said in a press release.
The Research & Development Plan (R&D Plan) is being released at a critical point in the history of the U.S. oil industry.
Fueled by the shale revolution and development of complex deepwater reservoirs, U.S. oil production surged to a 37-year high of 10 million barrels per day in November and output is expected to continue climbing to a fresh all-time record this year, according to the federal Environmental Information Administration.
With output pushing higher and an oil-friendly administration in the White House, the need to focus on sustainable, environmentally conscious development practices is more apparent than ever.
The R&D Plan draws heavily on input from industry stakeholders and RPSEA’s network of subject matter experts, including universities, national laboratories, as well as large and small energy producers and consumers. It also builds on the foundation of RPSEA’s successful program in the past decade working with the industry, academia, and the Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL).
Onshore Research Needs
Included in the research needs outlined in the R&D Plan are calls for studies into the most effective strategies and technologies for developing unconventional reservoirs, such as the Marcellus Shale in Appalachia, the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and the Eagle Ford Shale in Texas.
The report notes that the average U.S. shale well currently recovers less than 10% for oil production and 15% for gas production, making the enhancement of reservoir recovery an issue of great interest for all stakeholders. It suggests research into better reservoir characterization to improve the well design and wellbore placement to boost recovery.
As shale development increases, the R&D Plan also recommends examining of issues surrounding flowlines, pipelines, and stray gas especially in areas where population growth has occurred on top of old and sometimes abandoned flowlines that were not mapped or identified.
This need was highlighted last year by an incident in Firestone, Colorado. A home in relatively new Front Range neighborhood was destroyed in an explosion linked to an old flowline that was thought to be out of service. The accident led to two deaths and prompted state regulators to call for the inspection of wells and flowlines across the state.
“The domestic unconventional gas resource has dramatically altered the energy picture in the U.S.,” the report said. “As attention turns toward shale gas resources around the world, the technologies developed through this program and applied to the environmentally responsible development of domestic resources will keep U.S. companies and universities in the forefront of global unconventional resource development.”
The R&D Plan also included a call for documenting the impact of shale gas production on regional air and water quality, with proposed projects on environmental baseline monitoring, fugitive methane emissions and fracturing flow back water characterization.
Water management was highlighted as a universal issue, with the cost of recycling being an important factor. Though the report noted that advances are somewhat restricted by regulations, liability, risks, transportation, sourcing, and disposal. It also highlighted a need for research and better technologies to monitor and manage water disposal related to induced seismicity.
Offshore Research Needs
Offshore production research needs were also a subject of significance in the R&D plan. In recent years, several big deepwater developments have come online that pushed the technological boundaries of the industry to new limits and helped to propel production from the federal Gulf of Mexico to a record 1.7 million b/d in November, EIA data show.
Deepwater reservoirs are particularly challenging and costly to develop. They require years of advance planning and pose unique operating challenges and risks. The R&D plan recommends further research into a variety of issues associated with this output to find ways to streamline the process of bringing new wells online while minimizing environmental impacts.
“The goal of Offshore Program is to develop environmentally sensitive, cost-effective technologies to identify and develop resources in increasingly challenging conditions and ensure that the understanding of the risks associated with deepwater operations keeps pace with the technologies that industry has developed,” the R&D Plan said.
Becoming a Safety Leader
The research model RPSEA has developed includes actively engaging stakeholders across the entire community of energy producers, researchers, technology providers, regulators and environmental groups.
And while the R&D Program was primarily developed to promote the safe delivery of energy resources to U.S. citizens, any discoveries could also be extended to oil and gas production in other countries across the world.
“While the U.S. is currently a leader in terms of the development of oil and gas (in particular, the onshore unconventional shale resources), other nations are beginning to see these resources as an important component of a plan to move toward a lower-carbon, sustainable energy mix,” Williams said.
ExxonMobil is taking fugitive methane emissions seriously with a program designed to lower the volume of the greenhouse gas that is released from the company’s production and midstream sites across the US.
The program, launched in September, prioritizes actions at US sites operated by the company’s shale-focused subsidiary XTO Energy. The effort includes phasing out high-bleed pneumatic devices, research into new technologies designed to detect and reduce facility emissions, staff training, and a leak detection and repair program.
“We are implementing an enhanced leak detection and repair program across our production and midstream sites to continually reduce methane emissions, and are also evaluating opportunities to upgrade facilities and improve efficiency at both current and future sites,” XTO President Sara Ortwein said in a press release.
The program goes beyond measures required by federal and state laws and represents a substantial move by Exxon — the largest natural gas producer in the US — to set a higher bar for the entire industry.
The multi-pronged approach to reducing methane emissions begins with a focus on the wellhead and associated midstream infrastructure; The leak detection and repair program requirse every XTO division to survey production and midstream sites with optical gas imaging camera technology for leaks. Data collected by these surveys will then analyzed for frequency, trends and patterns with facilities and equipment that are found to be more prone to leaking becoming top repair priorities.
XTO is also starting a three-year plan to phase out the use of 1,250 high-bleed pneumatic devices across its US operations. The valves, which are typically found at older sites, are designed to periodically vent pressure buildup to maintain safety, system integrity and efficient operations. The ones considered ‘high bleed’ vent more often and at higher volume
The practice of addressing the most leak-prone equipment and high-bleed pneumatic devices first suggests that XTO’s program could yield notable improvements early on. That’s because the largest portion of methane emissions appears to come from a small number of sources, in much the same way that a small percentage of older cars is responsible for the largest share of automotive-exhaust pollution, according to a 2014 study published by the University of Texas and the Environmental Defense Fund, with participation from Exxon.
The new program also calls for managing planned events in ways that are designed to reduce the release of methane emissions into the atmosphere. For instance, field personal will now monitor and remain nearby during the manual liquid unloading process at well sites to close off all wellhead vents to the atmosphere. Liquid unloading is a process that involves removing liquid that has collected in equipment tubing and prevents natural gas from flowing up through the well.
In addition, a training effort focused on management approaches to overall fugitive emissions is being launched and will consider topics like pneumatic device integrity, leak detection and repair practices, and the sharing of best practices across the company.
XTO will also continue its practice of using green completions to minimize methane emissions at wells during the completion process by capturing or burning off flowback emissions instead of venting them into the atmosphere. It is also working to minimize the need to burn off or flare this gas by maximizing gas capture via pipeline, although some flaring will still happen at new developments where infrastructure investments are contingent on successful hydrocarbon development.
West Texas and New Mexico
XTO has already begun putting some of these practices to use in prolific fields in West Texas and New Mexico. Last year, the company completed a pilot project in the Midland Basin that tested new low-emission designs that use compressed air instead of natural gas to operate the pneumatic equipment that helps to regulate conditions such as level, flow, pressure and temperature. It said the results demonstrated the feasibility of using similar designs for new and existing central tank batteries to further eliminate methane emissions.
The company is also collaborating with ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company and third-party equipment manufacturers to develop state-of-the-art, low-cost, minimum-emissions equipment that could be used for future developments, particularly in the Delaware Basin. Parent company Exxon is also participating in a methane measurement reconciliation study with the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and supporting research underway at Harvard, the University of Texas Energy Initiative, and Stanford University’s Natural Gas Initiative.
Exxon’s expanded commitment to the environment comes as the company is facing an environmental legal battle in California. In July 2017, seven coastal communities filed suits in their local Superior Court systems alleging greenhouse gas emissions caused by Exxon and 17 other energy companies contributed to a warming planet, leading to coastal flooding, beach erosion and rising infrastructure costs. New York City followed California’s lead in January by filing its own lawsuit against the oil major and four other fossil fuel companies that seeks billions in damages to fund “climate change resiliency measures that the city needs to implement.”
Exxon’s Vice President of Public and Government Affairs for Suzanne McCarron addressed these global warming concerns in a January post on the company’s Energy Factor blog, saying “We believe the risk of climate change is real and we are committed to being part of the solution. That is why we have invested $8 billion since 2000 on energy efficiency and emissions reduction.”
In the meantime, the effort by these governmental bodies to wring money from the oil supermajor may ultimately be distracting from the bigger, overarching challenge we all face — that of securing energy to power a hungry world while coming up with technological solutions to reduce the risks posed by climate change.
The methane emissions reduction effort represents a step in the right direction for Exxon and serves as the latest indication that momentum to develop more sustainable oilfield practices is building across the industry.
It was not too long ago that layoffs were rampant in the oil patch; however, we are now in the middle of an upturn and the need for additional labor continues to increase. After your company has become accustomed to working with a small force, you may suddenly find yourself bursting at the seams with new (and returning) employees. This is not a time to send them all back to the field. Instead, it’s important to verify that their training is current to support your culture of safety.
Managing oilfield safety in your growing workforce requires a commitment to providing training to team members as needed, as well as ensuring that your policies and procedures are optimized for the sudden increase in demand. Taking the time to strengthen your existing policies and manuals, as well as improving the necessary tracking for safety training which may not be able to support the expanded workforce, are both key to preventing safety disasters. Here are some additional tips to help you manage safety when your employee numbers increase:
Oilfield Safety Culture
Have strong safety goals and values: Make sure your company’s commitment to safety is institutionalized in messaging. Everything you say and represent should communicate that your priorities are: nobody gets hurt, we protect the environment, and safety is our top concern.
Model basic principles: Make sure that you express, in writing and in attitude, the following beliefs:
Incidents are preventable;
Everyone is responsible for oilfield safety;
HSE performance is measured and managed;
Management is committed to safety;
The company always complies with rules and regulations.
Leadership: Prepare your management team to lead by example, and teach them to monitor their team’s performance, establish best practices for their division (which support those of the company), and emphasize the importance of open communication. Their team members need to know that they can ask any questions and should report any hazard or risk they encounter. Make reporting of any violations, risks, and hazards an expected part of a leader’s job.
SOPs: Provide SOPs to new employees, as well as revised SOPs to current employees. Periodic inspections of company locations help to ensure procedures are followed, and site visits help to create open communication and a culture of accepting changes and suggestions for SOPs by individuals working at the job sites.
Oilfield Safety Skills
Training: Adequate training is perhaps the best way to manage oilfield safety, especially in preventing incidents. Develop a plan to train employees based on job description and working conditions. Provide thorough certification requirements, and provide ample opportunities for team members to add additional certifications. A fully trained workforce is a safer workforce. To maintain a skilled staff, provide for on-site continued training and coaching to improve performance, and be sure to ask for training feedback. It is also essential to have a program in place to automatically notify safety managers on a regular basis of upcoming safety training expirations. This prevents employees with expired safety training from slipping through the cracks and allows for proactive planning of training and coaching.
Equipment: In an industry where large, dangerous, and extensive equipment is used regularly, safety standards must include proper handling of equipment. The following are important parts of an equipment safety plan:
A clear maintenance program to prevent breakdowns and accidents;
Procedures on dangerous equipment;
A quality control program;
A tracking system to monitor repairs, replacements and expirations.