HSE & Sustainability

Health, Safety, and Environment-2019

A critical support role within the upstream sector is played by the thousands who work in HSE and sustainability. The HSE performance of the industry has improved dramatically over the decades because of technological advances and a greater understanding of systems, processes, and human performance.

You may have noticed that the Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE) Technology Focus section is larger than most. This is because nearly every SPE conference produces important HSE papers. For instance, papers chosen for this issue come from SPE’s Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference, and the International Petroleum Technology Conference. In addition, since the early 1990s, SPE’s HSE discipline has produced a flagship biennial international conference, for which preparations are under way. The 2020 SPE International Conference and Exhibition on Health, Safety, Environment, and Sustainability, with the theme of “Generating Pride and Enabling Engagement,” will be a rich source of quality papers.

The 2019 SPE president, Sami Alnuaim, has made sustainability and industry pride central to his term. Paper SPE 191537 addresses necessary transitions in resource management to facilitate sustainability, and pride in the industry was treated in depth in the March issue of JPT. Certainly, one key source of pride is the industry’s contribution to enabling socioeconomic development in many nations and the consequent improvement in individual quality of life around the world.

A critical support role within the upstream sector of the highly complex oil and gas value chain is played by the thousands of people who work in HSE and sustainability. The HSE performance of the industry has improved dramatically over the decades because of technological advances and a greater understanding of systems, processes, and human performance. Professional development of the HSE function is gaining momentum within SPE. It is a standalone primary discipline but also a popular secondary discipline because HSE and sustainability affect us all. No matter our role, we all need expertise in these topics.

Reflecting the maturing of the discipline, more events than ever are featuring HSE and sustainability content. A core community of volunteers is constantly working on new events and ways to advance industry practice and support. Last November, SPE signed a memorandum of understanding with both the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers and IPIECA to support the role it can play in enabling their work and extending their reach. More HSE-centered special sessions and program tracks exist at technical conferences. Further developments, including growing study groups at the country level, are in the works.

In June, at the Gaia Summit, SPE played host to 50 thought leaders and change agents from the industry and its stakeholders to consider the current state of the industry in relation to achieving sustainable development. The group worked together for 2 days to consider how to contribute to the industry in a way that will be on the right side of history. How can we capitalize on deserved pride in how the industry contributes to society? How can the industry earn the admiration of critics? What is the principled, responsible way forward that draws on the brainpower, infrastructure, values, and capability of the entire industry and its stakeholders?

Along with pride, engagement is also critical for this discipline. The current SPE Strategic Plan revised SPE’s role in enabling industry engagement, both internally and externally. Those dedicated to HSE and sustainability are already called upon to engage employees in making safe behaviors routine. Now, this call will push the engagement even further. Leaders are engaged to lead—to engage external parties with regard to their concerns.

This Month's Technical Papers

Study Advocates New Approach Toward Workplace Mental Health

Focus on Individual Decision Making Drives Safety Journey

Data Mining of Hidden Danger in Operational Production

The Cloud Offers Opportunity for Oil and Gas Cybersecurity

Data-Driven Management Strategy Can Reduce Environmental Effect of Production Plants

Transforming Natural Resource Management for a Sustainable Planet

Recommended Additional Reading

SPE 195412 Leveraging Technology To Manage Health, Safety, and Human-Rights Risks: A Differentiated Approach to Managing Fatigue by Norsayani M. Yaakob, Petronas, et al.

SPE 193082 Proactive Application of Human-Performance Science in Risk-Assessment Process Within Dynamic Operations of an Oilfield Service Provider by Abdelsalam Yasseen, Baker Hughes, a GE Company, et al.

SPE 191463 Overview of Industry Advancements in Environmental Awareness by Richard Haut, Houston Advanced Research Center, et al.

Tom Knode, SPE, is principal consultant at vPSI Group. He previously worked on contract for Statoil, and, before that, he was with Halliburton for 25 years. Knode has had regional and global responsibilities for the oversight of HSE and introduced programs to improve performance through enhanced HSE leadership and technical requirements. He was the Technical Director of Health, Safety, Security, Environment, and Social Responsibility for SPE from 2008 to 2011, has been co-chairperson of five SPE HSE conferences, and has coauthored more than 20 technical papers and articles, including for JPT. Knode holds a BS degree in geology from Texas Christian University and an MS degree in geology from The University of Texas at Arlington. He is a member of the JPT Editorial Committee and can be reached at tknode@sbcglobal.net.