IQPC Operational Excellence in Oil & Gas Conference 2021

National Petroleum Council on cyber challenges. Texas A&M balances procedural and judgment-based approaches to safety. Flint Hills Resources mobile digital worker platform. CruxOCM’s robotic industrial process automation.

Speaking at the 2021 IQPC OPEX in Oil & Gas conference, Angela Dennis of the US National Petroleum Council presented the keynote, ‘Dynamic Delivery: America’s Evolving Oil and Natural Gas Transportation Infrastructure’. Dennis warned of the ‘extraordinary’ level of connectivity that has progressively raised cyber challenges to the oil and natural gas industry due to the convergence of IT networks with OT ICS networks. Targeted ICS attacks have increased in frequency and sophistication with the potential for economic impact, operational shutdowns, damaged equipment, and significant environmental, health, and safety consequences.

In 2019, the NPC produced a report based on feedback from multiple stakeholders that concluded with key findings and supporting recommendations. Notably a ‘Cyber PHA’ (process hazards analysis) to evaluate risks from cyber threat scenarios and establish appropriate levels of protection against cybersecurity attacks. Operators need to address supply chain risks with specific requirements in purchasing contracts with OT suppliers to adhere to industry cybersecurity standards. OT suppliers ‘must provide timely updates, such as patching for cyber vulnerabilities’.

The 2019 draft of the report and recommendations is a free download from the NPC. We were curious to know if this ever progressed beyond its ‘draft’ status but an email to NPC bounced and sending a message from the NPC website contact form gave a 404 file not found!

Camille Peres, an occupational health researcher from Texas A&M presented on ‘Rethinking human error using the interactive behavior triad’. Peres cited the 2010 Macondo blowout as an example of what can go wrong as drillers sit for 12 hours at a time in front of complex data displays. ‘It is no longer acceptable to rely on a system that requires the right person to be looking at the right data at the right time and then to understand its significance despite simultaneous activities and other monitoring responsibilities’. Peres showed a drilling log that purported to show indications of an abnormal pressure build-up well before the blow-out that ‘nobody seemed to notice’*.

* See also our report in this issue from the 2021 PPDM Houston Data Expo where Jess Kozman (Katalyst) presented the same graphic and gave some chapter and verse for the analysis.

A 2014 Industry Survey* found that most oil and gas safety incidents were attributed to ‘procedural’ issues. TAMU’s Mary Kay O’Conner Process Safety Center is researching procedural systems to define best practices and establish new standards based on human factors. The planned framework is to ‘increase productivity, human reliability and safety and is applicable to new technologies and interfaces. While there may be consensus on what constitutes a good procedure, there remains the question of how it is best delivered. There is evidence to suggest that a best practice is not enough and that a safety document per se cannot be a reliable hazard barrier. Blindly following the rules in a dangerous situation may lead to disaster. What is needed is a culture that understands the ‘gap between procedures and practice’. There is a conflict between the procedure manual approach to safety and one which develops skills for ‘judging when and how to adapt procedures to local circumstances’. A balance is required between both. More from the TAMU Next Generation Advanced Procedures program, a joint venture between Peres’ unit and the TAMU Ergonomics Center.

* Moura, Beer, Patelli, Lewis & Knoll, 2014.

Brook Vickery from Flint Hills Resources is ‘transforming field productivity’ by building a digital worker platform. The DWP begins with a team approach, ‘no more working in silos’ and has the lean ‘Jidoka principle’ as its philosophical basis. Once the right team and talents have been assembled, ‘make it visual’. This involves deploying tools such as 3D models, the ProCore construction management app, LeanKit and a mobile-enabled CMMS. Other productivity-enhancing tools include Microsoft Teams and laser scans. Onsite comms are a prerequisite with site-wide WiFi or cellular networks providing bandwidth. In construction, Matterport’s site viewer got a shout-out along with the Blue Beam on-line digital markup tool and the Faro laser scanner. Vickery presented several applications, some developed by Flint Hills, spanning construction and operations all supported by apps running on handheld tablets or mobile phones.

Vicki Knott showed how CruxOCM’s robotic industrial process automation (RIPA) solution is to ‘transform the control room’. Operators’ workloads are increasingly heavy and complex. Today, most rely on ‘procedures, checklists and rules of thumb’ with the risk of human error, loss of efficiency and safety incidents. RIPA automates the complex processes and work flows, ‘freeing-up’ operators to monitor for maximum asset production and ready to respond to any potential safety or environmental issues. Knott claimed that RIPA has produced ‘astounding results’ increasing throughput by up to 4% and reducing operator workload by ‘up to 99%’. More from CruxOCM.

Next year’s IQPC OPEX event is scheduled for October 31 - November 2, 2022 in Houston.

Click here to comment on this article

Click here to view this article in context on a desktop

© Oil IT Journal - all rights reserved.