Oil and gas companies look to improve industry safety, asset management

Oil and gas companies look to improve industry safety, asset management

The oil and gas extraction industry has undergone several new changes that have resulted in companies focusing on keeping up with the highest standards of safety available.

Recent events have shown that workers, the environment and business operations can all be impacted because of one instance, however oil and gas extraction companies that manage their operations and production facilities in the safest way possible can lower these impacts. Operators at these companies have learned that by ensuring safety, they also protect personnel, the environment and production assets, in turn maximizing up time and keeping operational disruptions down.

According to Energy Global, keeping all of these functions balanced is often most difficult when an oil and gas company decides it needs to perform upgrades on its safety system. As these safety measures age, their equipment often becomes obsolete, raising the risk of adverse incidents. This can also lead to lower production time due to trips and shutdowns associated with the safety maintenance.

Many industry professionals think otherwise performing a safety system upgrade does not mean shutting down an entire facility. Rather, with the right controls in place and a strong engineering and maintenance program implemented, these safety measures can be fixed or replaced without significant disruption to productivity.

Safety systems are imperative at facilities in the oil and gas sector. Specifically, the distributed control system (DCS) keeps track of normal plant operations, while the safety instrumented systems (SIS) are in place to keep workers' lives, the environment and industry equipment safe from hazards. The most common forms of oil and gas safety systems, however, are the fire and gas (F&G) and emergency shutdown (ESD) programs.

"The primary objective of the F&G system is to monitor for the presence of fire through smoke, heat and flame detection, as well as for potentially dangerous levels of hydrocarbons by 'line of sight,' 'point' and acoustic gas detection methods," wrote Adam Howard, EPC operations manager at Rockwell Automation. "If any of these conditions are detected, the system implements appropriate alarming, fire fighting and suppression measures in order to minimise the impact to personnel, environment and assets being protected."

These systems have proven to protect workers, the environment and facility assets from a wide range of hazards, including misuse of facility asset management, equipment failure or even a disastrous, widespread plant failure.

Compounding the issue of ensuring all processes are performed in the safest way possible is the need to meet state and federal pollution standards, such as the Environmental Protection Agency's regulations that were drafted specifically for the oil and gas sector. These inspections, too, can lead to costly downtime, however this process can be sped up with the proper documentation.

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