Washington, DC, April 13, 2016 - Offshore regulatory changes made thus far do not do enough to place the onus on industry to reduce risk, nor do they sufficiently empower the regulator to proactively oversee industry’s efforts to prevent another disaster like the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and oil spill at the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico, an independent investigation by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) warns.
Professor Andrew Hopkins, Emeritus Professor of Sociology Australian National University, has been awarded an honorary Fellowship of the Institution of Chemical Engineers for his outstanding contributions to process safety and to the analysis of process safety related incidents.
Read his biography "Quiet Outrage: The Way of a Sociologist".
Meet Andrew Hopkins: sociologist, storyteller, academic.
His books about man-made disasters – gas plant accidents, oil well blowouts, train crashes, coal mine explosions – are best-sellers, read by audiences the world over. His books have been described by reviewers as page turners of scholarly thoroughness.
By his own admission, this book is “idiosyncratic” - first, he explains what led him to write books about disasters in the way he did. Second, he discusses the role of academics in bringing about social change and third, he suggests that sociologists should address people outside their discipline, and that hazardous industries and their regulators should look to sociology for input.
Read the story behind the storyteller and why Andrew Hopkins’ sense of quiet outrage about corporate negligence has contributed to making the world of work safer.
Table of Contents
- A left leaning world view
- The meaning of injury rates
- Communication and Clarity
- Engaging with industry
- The Australian Defence Forces
- Seven Theses on Culture
- What kind of sociology?
- Encounters with Risk
Contact us to find out more about purchasing this book
From climate pariah to climate saviour?
This paper four key areas in which the oil and gas industry can contribute to climate action
while acting in its own interest – carbon pricing, supply chain leakage, addressing permafrost
methane emissions and biofuels/biochar production.
It addresses the question: what things can the petroleum industry do in pursuit of its economic interests that will also help to reduce greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere?
The industry has accepted that climate change is real and human-induced, and has even accepted in principle that a price on carbon is desirable. However, as a whole the
industry is not lobbying for such a price. The first thing it should do is lobby for a significant price on carbon. This will obviously be beneficial in combatting climate change. It will also be advantageous to the petroleum industry, because it will impact more heavily on coal and assist in bringing coal fired power to an end, leaving the way open for gas, at least in the short term.
Gas is only preferable to coal, from an emissions point of view, if methane emissions from all the links in the gas supply chain are curbed. Controlling these emissions will
not only benefit the environment; it will also be cost effective for the industry.
Even if we get to zero human emissions, climate change has already triggered an increase in the rate of methane release from the Arctic permafrost. The petroleum industry is well placed to capture this methane and either burn it, thereby reducing its greenhouse potential, or better still transport it to market. Appropriate financial incentives could make this worthwhile for the industry.
Finally, even if emissions can be stopped, we need to draw down carbon from the atmosphere and store it long term. One of the processes by which biofuels are made can be modified to maximise the production of biochar which can then be stored for a thousand years. The industry is well placed to do this, provided there are appropriate financial incentives.
These last two processes - capturing Arctic methane emissions and drawing down
carbon from the atmosphere - if they can be done on a large scale, have the potential
to transform the industry into a climate saviour.
Professor Andrew Hopkins
Australian National University
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The oil industry is in danger of making the same mistakes it did in the years before the Piper Alpha disaster, an offshore union boss warns.
Jake Molloy, from the RMT union, said a "demoralised" workforce was facing constant attacks on their terms and conditions.
Speaking at the STUC conference in Dundee, Mr Molloy said the same thing had happened in 1986.
The Piper Alpha platform exploded in July 1988, killing 167 men.
The STUC backed a series of motions calling for urgent government intervention to "alleviate the pressures on employers and jobs across the UK Continental Shelf, ensuring occupational health and safety standards and collective agreements are protected and strengthened, and industry impositions are ended".
The conference also noted "the backlog of safety critical maintenance work has grown significantly since summer 2014".
Mr Molloy, regional organiser of the RMT's offshore energy branch, said: "Everything that we are seeing in the offshore sector today was played out in 1986 - everything.
In just two short summers, in 1988, the Piper Alpha blew apart and took 167 men. We cannot and must not allow this industry to make the same mistakes again.
Casualisation, long hours and a demoralised workforce living under constant threat of attacks to their terms and conditions and the ever-present threat of redundancy.
"It wasn't the way to run an industry in 1986 and it took the deaths of 167 men to prove that."
The ABC reported BHP's deadly dam collapse linked to ramping up production• by Four Corners’ Ben Knight, Clay Hichens and Joel Tozer • Monday February 29,2016
“When millions of cubic metres of mining waste burst from a dam at BHP's joint-venture iron ore mine in Brazil, 19 people died, livelihoods were destroyed, and an environmental disaster was created that will cost billions of dollars to repair. Now, Four Corners has seen evidence of problems at the mine dating back almost a decade.” Read more
The Wall Street Examiner reportedWhat’s Next for the BHP Stock Price After Its Dam Collapse Trail of Death and Destruction in Brazil•by Diane Alter • November 30, 2015 Read More
The Australian reported today “The Brazilian government is within days of laying down a roughly $5 billion settlement plan for BHP’s Samarco iron ore joint venture that will pave the way for a resumption of mining operations following the fatal dam collapse at the mine.” • by John Durie . • Wednesday March 2, 2016 Read More
One person has died and three people are missing following the collapse of a building at Didcot A Power Station.
A major incident was declared at the site in south Oxfordshire after initial reports of an explosion at 16:00 GMT.
Thames Valley Fire Control Service confirmed the fatality and also reported four people were injured in a "very severe incident".
The decommissioned Didcot A plant closed in 2013 and demolition work has been taking place.
FutureMedia offers deep sympathy to the family and friends of those involved for this tragedy.
Muscat: Oman Oil Refineries and Petroleum Industries Company’s (Orpic) Mina Al Fahal refinery in Muscat reported the utilisation of a record capacity of 94 per cent last year.
This follows rigorous adherence to policies and processes that cascaded across all levels.
Several factors contributed to higher utilisation and can be summarised in the collective efforts of different disciplines that worked together to achieve a common goal –to serve Oman with pride.
“It is a continuous improvement process under the guidance of a clear leadership and vision that has yielded better results that all we are proud of,” said Essam Al Sheibany, general manager, Mina Al Fahal Operations of Orpic.
“Over the years, Orpic has steadfastly focussed on reliability and process safety practices through a programme called ‘Back to Basics.’ This simple programme focusses on core areas, such as health, safety, environment, operations, and plant equipment, to reassess and re-evaluate key areas of improvement,” said Al Sheibany.
We all are continually learning. Learning from our own mistakes as well as from the experiences of others makes us better prepared to deal with future events. Organizations are no different — successful ones use insights gained from mistakes, incidents, accidents and other undesirable occurrences to improve.
Identifying those lessons you really must learn, regardless of their source, and putting into action a process to take advantage of the learning is the very definition of continuous improvement that can make your organization safer, smarter and more sustainable. The opportunities those lessons afford can play a key role in remaining competitive, effective, efficient and profitable.
Every site in your organization spots local opportunities. However, some ideas, e.g., ones related to operational improvement or process safety, that could have broader applicability often don’t get entered into a corporate knowledge- or incident-management system because site staff don’t appreciate their wider value to the organization.
Only a small percentage of opportunities identified at a facility will be important to its larger business unit. Even fewer will have enterprise-wide relevance (Figure 1). However, those that do must be managed in an efficient and effective way.
A More Effective Approach
HUAA stands for Heard, Understood, Acknowledged and Actioned. It consists of the following core steps:
1. Identifying opportunities (Heard);
2. Entering them into an electronic system;
3. Having experts review them (Understood),
4. Accepting or rejecting them (Acknowledged); and
5. Assigning each to leadership to resolve and track to closure (Actioned).
By Mike Bearrow, Rolls-Royce Controls and Data Services, and Kim Turner, consultant
A worker is trapped underground at one of Newcrest Mining's operations.
The worker became stuck 300 metres underground after a "geotechnical" event at the Gosowong gold and silver mine in Indonesia.
The incident occurred in the Kencana part of Gosowong; the same area where two men were trapped underground for eight days in December 2010.
Newcrest said the geotechnical event happened around 8.30pm on Monday (Indonesian time).
The rest of the workers were evacuated, and it is unclear at this time whether the incident was caused by seismic activity or a fault in the mine.
Newcrest has not yet released the name nor nationality of the worker as it is still communicating with the worker's family and focusing on rescue work. "At this time our priority is to contact and rescue the trapped employee," said the company in a statement.
Newcrest said there had been damage to the mine, which was Newcrest's third most profitable mine during the 2015 financial year with $192 million of free cash flow.
All mining and processing at Gosowong have been suspended.
Gosowong was predicted to produce between 300,000 and 350,000 ounces of gold in the 2016 financial year, and it is unclear whether that guidance will be affected by the suspension.
The mine had produced about 141,000 ounces of gold in the six months to December 31 (2015), but that period was interrupted by works on the mill.
Newcrest owns 75 per cent of Gosowong in partnership with an Indonesian company.
The incident has not stopped Newcrest shares from rising 5.3 per cent on Tuesday morning (9 February 2016) in response to a rise in gold prices over the past 24 hours.
The 2010 incident saw two workers trapped down the Kencana part of Gosowong after mudstone slipped and blocked their path to the mine's exit.
The workers had been working on an excavator and loader when the slip occurred.
They were unharmed, and the company was able to send them food and water through holes drilled into the area.
They were rescued unharmed eight days later on December 27, 2010.
Professor Andrew Hopkins will speak on Wednesday 24 February.
Hopkins' address will be on The Compliance Paradox: the case of the Marshall pipeline failure.
Purchase Hopkins' book "Nightmare Pipeline Failures: Fantasy Planning, Black Swans and Integrity Management" to read before the event.
While high pressure gas pipelines can be the source of major accidents, key lessons are highlighted by Professors Jan Hayes and Andrew Hopkins in this book. The Australian industry has world-leading research, education and safety standards to improve integrity and reduce risk.
Jan Hayes will speak on Regulatory Implications of the Marshall and San Bruno Disasters.
Waco, TX – The Chemical Safety Board is calling on OSHA to address the hazards posed by fertilizer grade ammonium nitrate.
This comes in light of the chemical explosion that killed 15 people and injured more than 260 others on April 17, 2013, at West Fertilizer Co. in West, TX.
CSB issued recommendations for OSHA and the Environmental Protection Agency as part of a final report that was approved Jan. 28. CSB investigators listed a series of shortcomings in regulation, emergency planning and incident response that contributed to the scope of the tragedy. The blast took place after about 30 tons of fertilizer grade ammonium nitrate, which were stored in combustible plywood bins, overheated in a fire at the facility.
OSHA does not cover fertilizer grade ammonium nitrate in its Process Safety Management Standard or clearly identify the chemical in its Explosives and Blasting Agents Standard, CSB said. The agency recommended that OSHA revise either standard to address safe storage of fertilizer grade ammonium nitrate, construction materials and fire suppression systems. Investigators also recommended that existing chemical facilities be required to replace bins made of wood and other combustible materials with non-combustible materials.
Current mining downturn not a ‘normal’ one — Moody’s
The ratings agency sees little chance of a prompt recovery.
Moody’s sees little chance of a prompt recovery. On the contrary, it expects physical supply/demand imbalance to widen further, leaving the mining industry in extremely weak conditions.
The continued rout in commodity prices that has severely hit the mining industry in the past year can’t be considered a “normal” cyclical downturn, but rather, an unprecedented one, says Moody’s in a new report released this week.
The ratings agency, which recently placed 175 energy and mining firms at risk of downgrades, said the current environment is forcing miners to make fundamental shifts in the way they operate.
“Stress on companies in the metals and mining industry could surpass what we saw during the 2008/2009 period,” the analysts note. “As a consequence, a wholesale recalibration of ratings is required.”
Rio Tinto's Mt Pleasant coal mine sold to MACH Energy
The Mount Pleasant thermal coal mine has found a buyer, with the sale going to MACH Energy Australia for $US224 million plus royalties on future coal sales.
Rio Tinto announced the binding agreement for the Hunter Valley asset sale this morning, which combined with the sale of its interest in the Bengalla Coal joint venture to New Hope Corporation, will amount to $US830 million, or $1.184 billion in agreed sales.
Aurizon, Asciano face 'the start of the squeeze' on mining contracts
Coal and iron ore miners could slash costs by more than $5 per tonne if they renegotiate transportation contracts with rail haulage groups like Asciano and Aurizon, new research from Macquarie has forecast.
Coal miners are likely to try and change their take-or-pay haulage contracts with rail haulage groups following the revelation last week by Aurizon that it is considering giving "contractual relief" to iron ore miners in Western Australia, including Karara Mining, Macquarie said.
An ongoing CSB probe into the February 2015 explosion has uncovered multiple process safety management deficiencies that led to the accident and a serious near-miss.
An ongoing investigation by the US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) of the February 18, 2015, explosion at the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, California, has uncovered multiple process safety management deficiencies that led to the accident and a serious near miss, the board said on Wednesday.
CSB_news_conferenceAt ExxonMobil, two workers were injured when an explosion occurred in the refinery’s electrostatic precipitator, or ESP, which is a piece equipment used to control air pollution. Due to a series of events that unfolded over several days, hydrocarbons accumulated inside the ESP, the board said. The result was a blast that dispersed large quantities of catalyst dust up to a mile away from the facility.
The CSB also found that large pieces of debris from the explosion were thrown into other units of the refinery directly surrounding the ESP. One of these pieces of debris hit scaffolding in the refinery’s alkylation unit, narrowly missing a tank containing tens of thousands of pounds of modified hydrofluoric acid, or HF.
The CSB determined that had the debris struck the tank, a rupture could have been possible, resulting in a potentially catastrophic release of extremely toxic modified HF into the neighboring community.
“Hydrofluoric acid can pose a severe hazard to the population and environment if a release occurs," said CSB chairperson Vanessa Allen Sutherland. "After HF acid vaporizes it condenses into small droplets that form a dense low-lying cloud that will travel along the ground for several miles and can cause severe damage to the respiratory system, skin, and bones of those who are exposed, potentially resulting in death.”
Torrance, California is a mixed-use city with industrial areas directly adjacent to residential communities. Within a three-mile radius of the ExxonMobil refinery are 333,000 residents, 71 schools, and eight hospitals. In an area as heavily populated as Torrance, a significant release of modified HF stored at ExxonMobil has the potential to cause serious injury or death to many community members, the CSB said.
“Had flying debris ruptured the tank of modified HF, this accident could have been far worse," Sutherland said. "We look forward to hearing the concerns from the community at our public meeting.”
The CSB said that its investigators have faced a lack of cooperation from ExxonMobil to comply with their requests for information about the near-miss incident involving the alkylation unit and modified HF, even after repeated voluntary requests and subpoenas. To date, the CSB has no or incomplete responses to 49% of its subpoena requests.
“Despite these challenges, the team is making strides to complete their investigation, including analysis of the near miss incident," Sutherland said.
The sequence of events that eventually led to the explosion at the refinery began on February 12, 2015, when problems with a piece of equipment called an expander caused the refinery’s fluid catalytic cracking, or FCC, unit to be put into a idled condition referred to as safe park.
With the FCC unit shut down, steam was forced into the reactor to prevent hydrocarbons from flowing back from the main distillation column. On the morning of the accident, this steam was escaping through an open flange on the expander, the CSB said, preventing operators from continuing their maintenance work. It had traveled through a leaking slide valve connected to the reactor.
An outside supervisor then reduced the amount of steam being forced into the reactor so that work could continue. However, at the time, workers were unaware that hydrocarbons were leaking into the main distillation column from interconnected equipment. As the pressure of the steam dropped, the hydrocarbons flowed back into the reactor, out through the leaking slide valve and eventually into the ESP, according to the board. There, the hydrocarbons found an ignition source – and exploded.
While the investigation into the explosion is ongoing, investigators say they have already identified multiple process safety management deficiencies that helped contribute to the accident.
In order to perform work to bring the FCC unit back online, ExxonMobil determined they needed to deviate from several existing procedures, the CSB said. This required a document called a variance, which is a written temporary deviation from normal operating procedures. The variance used was created in 2012 to address problems with the expander.
CSB investigators say they found that ExxonMobil did not conduct a management of change review before implementing this outdated variance, even though conditions within the FCC unit had changed over the previous three years. Read more
U.S. Chemical Safety Board Finds Multiple Safety Deficiencies Led to February 2015 Explosion and Serious Near Miss at the Exxon Mobil Refinery in Torrance, California
Mining vehicles to blame for hundreds of injuries.
Rubber-tyred vehicles have emerged as a health hazard for underground coal miners in the New South Wales Hunter Valley, with hundreds of injuries reported over the past decade, stemming from jolts blamed on vibrating vehicles.
The Hunter-based industry group Coal Services compiled a report of injuries sustained by miners travelling in rubber-tyred vehicles in underground mines over a 10-year period to 2014.
More than 300 incidents of injury were reported, ranging from minor sprains and strains through to spinal fractures.
The injuries were caused by whole body vibration.
Nearly half of the injured miners were travelling in dump trucks, with pot holes blamed for 40 per cent of the incidents, causing vehicles to transmit shocks, jolts and jars to the occupants.
Neck injuries were recorded in half of all incidents.
As a result, the report said all mining companies should ensure site risk assessments take into account the potential for whole body vibration on all vehicles operating in their mines.
Hunter mines are being urged to step up protocols to minimise the risk of injuries, stemming from vibrating rubber-tyred vehicles.
Coal Services said companies should set vehicle tyres, suspension, visibility and seat standards before use to try to create a more comfortable workplace, to reduce the risk of injury, and take note of driver and passenger feedback on the "roughness" of their ride.
By Giselle Wakatama
Acknowledgment 1233 ABC Newcastle
24-26 February 2016
Perth Convention Exhibition Centre
Gas and the gender handicap.
Ruchika Deora, founder of Women in Energy (WIE), talks with Gas Today about gender pay parity and women’s access to leadership positions.
By Sally Commins
It would be nice to think that in 2015 discussions about gender pay parity and women’s access to leadership positions were relics of another age. Problems solved, or at least robustly tackled through programs and initiatives that aim to make the gas industry a better place for all. Unfortunately, the numbers tell a different story.
Sleep deprivation can hit workers in every industry, however in high risk work the issues it causes are very serious. Shiftwork is a major cause of sleep deprivation.
A shift worker is anyone who follows a work schedule that is outside of the typical "9 to 5" business day. In the past few decades the United States has become increasingly dependent upon shift workers to meet the demands of globalization and our 24-hour society. From a competitive standpoint, shift work is an excellent way to increase production and customer service without major increases in infrastructure. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, millions of Americans are considered shift workers, including doctors and nurses, pilots, bridge-builders, police officers, customer service representatives and commercial drivers to name a few.
However, while shift work does create potential productivity advantages, it also has many inherent risks. Some of the most serious and persistent problems shift workers face are frequent sleep disturbance and associated excessive sleepiness. Read more
Waking after a bad night’s sleep and struggling into work is a hidden productivity killer but one that experts say can be effectively treated for a more fulfilling and successful life at home and at work.
At least two workers were injured in an explosion and subsequent fire at a petrochemical plant in the south-western Iranian province of Khuzestan.
The incident took place at the high-density polyethylene (HDPE) unit of the Maroun petrochemical complex, December 19 morning, Iran’s Fars agency reported.
The cause of the explosion was not immediately clear. More details about the reasons and damages have not yet been disclosed.
In a similar incident in July 2015, a worker was killed at Maroun petrochemical complex. The Maroun Petrochemical Complex is located in southwestern Khuzestan province with an annual production capacity of 1.1 million tons of polyethylene.
The Maroun Petrochemical Company shared about 10 percent of Iran’s petrochemical output, equal to 2.2 million tons during the first half of the current Iranian fiscal year, which started on March 21.
Maroun petrochemical plant’s annual production capacity stands at 4.4 million tons of various petrochemical products including ethylene, ethylene glycol, polypropylene and high density polyethylene that are mainly exported to Asian markets.
China is the biggest customer of Maroun Petrochemical Company, buying mainly polymers.
Three (3) wounded in pertochemical company blast
Explosion in a Petrochemical company in the southwestern city of Mahshahr injured three workers on Friday night (December 18, 2015).
The blast occurred in one of the department of Maroun Petrochemical Company in Mahshahr, a local official told IRNA on Saturday morning.
According to Governor of Mahshahr Mansour Ghamar, the explosion was extinguished within hours and the wounded were taken to a nearby hospital.
This is the second explosion at the same department in Maroun Petrochemical Company during the current Iranian calendar year (started on March 21, 2015).
A worker lost his life in the first blast, said the governor.
Ghamar added that investigation is underway to find out the cause of the explosion.
Maroun is one of the 21 petrochemical companies in Mahshahr.
Christmas is a time when your home is likely to be full of people and it is in the excitement of the season that accidents can easily happen. But one of the good things about Christmas is that there are typically more people around to supervise the children and, with a little more care and forward planning, most accidents could be avoided.
Follow these 12 safety tips to help prevent your festivities being cut short by a trip to casualty:
- Make sure you buy children's gifts for the correct age group and from reputable sources that comply with standards (e.g. The Toys (Safety) Regulations 2011)
- Remember to buy batteries for toys that need them - that way you won't be tempted to remove batteries from smoke alarms
- Look out for small items that could pose a choking hazard to young children, including parts that have fallen off toys or from Christmas trees, button batteries and burst balloons
- Keep decorations and cards away from fires and other heat sources such as light fittings. Don't leave burning candles unattended, make sure you put them out before going to bed and do not put candles on Christmas trees
- If you have old Christmas lights, seriously consider buying new ones, which will meet much higher safety standards, keep the lights switched off until the Christmas tree is decorated, don't let children play with lights (some have swallowed the bulbs), and remember to switch off the lights when going out of the house or going to bed
- Remember, Christmas novelties are not toys, even if they resemble them, and they do not have to comply with toy safety regulations. Give careful thought to where you display them, for example, place them high up on Christmas trees where they are out of the reach of young hands
- Give yourself enough time to prepare and cook Christmas dinner to avoid hot fat, boiling water and sharp knife accidents that come from rushing, and keep anyone not helping with dinner, out of the kitchen. Wipe up any spills quickly
- Have scissors handy to open packaging, so you're not tempted to use a knife, and have screwdrivers at the ready to assemble toys
- Beware of trailing cables and wires in the rush to connect new gadgets and appliances, and always read instructions
- Falls are the most common accidents so try to keep clutter to a minimum. Make sure stairs are well-lit and free from obstacles, especially if you have guests
- Plan New Year parties well in advance and remember to designate a non-drinking driver for a safe return home. Don't drink and drive
- Plan long journeys so you won't be driving tired.
The management and staff at FutureMedia wish you and your loved ones a safe and happy Christmas and every success in 2016.
A US regulator has sent TransCanada a letter outlining 62 probable deficiencies on its Keystone pipeline.
The Calgary-based energy company faces up to $187,200 in fines for the alleged errors.
In a letter sent to the firm’s president, the US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said: “TransCanada failed to conduct tests to monitor the protected pipeline at least once each calendar year, but with intervals not exceeding 15 months. According to TransCanada’s records, fifty-one (51) required annual cathodic protection test station readings were not taken from 2010 to 2012 on the East Leg of Keystone from Steel City, Nebraska to Patoka, Illinois. Twenty-three (23) were from Steele City to Salisbury and the other twenty-eight 28 were from Salisbury to Patoka.
“TransCanada provided no rational for the failure to conduct and record the required testing.”
TransCanada has 30 days from the Nov 20 letter to respond to the allegations.
A firm spokesperson said: “In co-operation and consultation with PHMSA from the outset, TransCanada believes it has fully addressed all of the historical concerns raised in the notice, which date back several years.
“It is important to note that this is not a final order and penalty and as such we are reviewing the notice and determining our response at this time.”
Written by Rita Brown