HSE & Sustainability

Health, Safety, and Environment-2020

The good news is that the 2020 HSE and Sustainability conference will go ahead at the end of July 2020 as one of the first fully virtual conferences and exhibits offered by the SPE.


One year ago, this editorial communicated the exciting progress within the SPE health, safety, and environment (HSE) discipline and shared a preview of the 2020 SPE International Conference on HSE and Sustainability, which was to be held in Bogota, Colombia, in March.

The high-level focus of our discipline’s flagship biennial event is “Generating Pride and Enabling Engagement,” and the 100-person-strong program committee spent months building an excellent balance of papers and speakers. What we did not know at the time was that, shortly before our conference was to start, our industry would find itself coping with a historic drop in oil prices and society would be fighting a global pandemic.

SPE responded by postponing this and other conferences to protect the health and safety of our members. The good news is that the 2020 HSE and Sustainability conference will go ahead at the end of July 2020 as one of the first fully virtual conferences and exhibits offered by the SPE. As you read this edition, its participants will be wrapping up what will undoubtedly have been another successful knowledge-sharing event.

Our industry has had a swift response to the pandemic by deploying mitigation processes several weeks before the World Health Organization even declared it a pandemic. A study from the University of Houston entitled “The Energy Workforce and COVID-19: Data-Driven Policy Recommendations” indicates that the industry has taken appropriate actions. Planning is a key element to managing any emergency, and there will be many lessons learned to share as we recover from this threat. One paper included in this section covers the response to infectious diseases in offshore operations.

A new Safety Leadership Academy, webinars, and other training courses, as well as conferences and regional and local events, can and will serve as the means for development in HSE. In this low-oil-price era, with pressure to reduce costs, it is of the utmost importance that we have engaged and well-informed HSE leaders across the industry.

2019 also saw the arrival of a new strategic initiative—the Gaia Program. It is a nonhierarchical multistakeholder community enabled by SPE and other professional associations with the basic premise of helping ensure oil and gas comes out on the right side of history—valued for its contributions, yet agile and imaginative enough to evolve with changing expectations of its role in society. SPE Live, which can be found on SPE’s LinkedIn page, regularly features Gaia Talks, if you’d like to join and learn more.

This selection of technical papers focuses on all aspects of HSE and sustainability. A library of technical papers can also be found in OnePetro and on the HSENow online publication.

This Month's Technical Papers

Public/Private Partnership Improves Healthcare Outcomes in Papua New Guinea

Preparedness Holds Key to Management of Infectious Diseases Offshore

Operation Planning Tool Improves Quality, Efficiency of Offshore Risk Management

Technology, Innovative Approaches Enhance Road Safety for the Oil and Gas Industry

Task Force Updates Guide Presenting Best Practices in Environmental Management

Pilot Program in Mexico Classifies Oil and Gas Projects Using UN Framework

Recommended Additional Reading

SPE 199406 From Traditional to Trailblazing: Evolution of Occupational Health at Shell by Krystal Sexton, Shell, et al.

SPE 199436 Predictive and Prescriptive Fatigue Management Through Wearable Technology by Chang Hua Go, Petronas, et al.

SPE 199506 Reinventing the HSE Learning Journey by Engaging Personnel Using Innovative Communication Techniques by Liliana Torgerson, Schlumberger, et al.

Tom Knode, SPE, is the director of safety for Kirby Distribution and Services. His prior roles include safety consulting with vPSI Group, contracting with Equinor, and working for Halliburton for 25 years. Knode has had regional and global responsibilities for the oversight of health, safety, and environment (HSE) performance and introduced programs to reduce risk through enhanced leadership and process improvement. He was the SPE’s technical director for HSE from 2008 to 2011. Knode has cochaired five SPE HSE conferences and authored and coauthored more than 20 publications on HSE performance improvement. He currently is on several SPE committees, including the JPT Editorial Committee and the Advisory Committee to the Technical Director for HSE and Sustainability. 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 can be reached at tknode@sbcglobal.net.