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Industry in Action: Offshore operators improve performance

Collaborative plan aims to position Atlantic Canada as the safest and most environmentally responsible offshore operating region in the world

When it comes to offshore oil and natural gas activity, Canada has high standards for environment, health and safety, and among the most stringent regulatory regimes in the world. However, incidents in 2018 and 2019 have prompted the industry to take a hard look at overall performance, to find opportunities for improvement.

“As an industry, we are disappointed in our safety and environmental performance in 2018 and 2019, and know we must do better,” says Paul Barnes, director, Atlantic Canada and Arctic, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP). “We share a common desire to continue raising the bar on environment, health and safety performance offshore.”

Through CAPP, offshore operators, in collaboration with regulators, governments and other stakeholders held meetings and workshops to discuss collective performance and CAPP held its own planning sessions with members.

As a result, CAPP produced an action plan, Collaborating for Safety and Sustainability: A Continuous Improvement Plan, which outlines a shared vision for safe, responsible and reliable operations offshore Newfoundland and Labrador. In addition, individual companies are assessing their operations on an individual basis to determine what changes are required to enhance performance.

Canada’s Atlantic offshore industry is working to enhance its safety and environmental performance through collaboration and continuous improvement.

Highlights of the action plan include:

Vision

Atlantic Canada is the safest and most environmentally responsible offshore oil and natural gas operating region in the world.

Purpose

To enhance collaboration and information sharing across the offshore oil and natural gas industry, and facilitate continuous improvement in support of safe, responsible and reliable operations.

Objectives

  • Enhance collaboration and communications with a focus on incident prevention.
  • Enhance training and competency for the offshore workforce.
  • Enhance spill response capability to minimize the impact of potential releases on the environment.
  • Support efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Focus areas

Initial focus areas have been grouped into two categories:

  • Increasing Understanding and Information Sharing
  • Establish common language and understanding related to managing risk and risk assessments.
  • Improve understanding of the perception of safety culture amongst the workforce and identify key trends/opportunities for improvement.
  • Enhance processes related to sharing lessons learned amongst industry, and between industry and other key stakeholders.
  • Collaborate with the contractor community to identify opportunities for alignment and improvement in how operators and contractors work together.
  • Enhance training, learning and sharing information to continue to cultivate a culture of identification and mitigation of risk.
  • Work with the fishing industry and other stakeholders to improve awareness and communications related to spill response.
  • Enhancing Performance
  • Share and adopt best practices related to abnormal or non-routine work situations, adverse weather protocols and safe shut downs and restarts.
  • Evaluate opportunities to introduce additional simulation training to enhance competencies.
  • Conduct an assessment of spill response capability and implement relevant learnings.
  • Work with regulators and governments to enhance training for seabird and marine mammal observers.
  • Map current GHG emissions for producing assets, as well as for basin logistics and transportation to identify potential improvement opportunities.
  • Evaluate and adopt new leak detection and subsea monitoring technology.
  • Identify research and development opportunities related to the objectives identified in this plan.

Measuring progress

While the industry is beginning to make progress on all of the focus areas identified in this plan, those identified in the latter category are viewed as longer term initiatives, and some may take longer to implement.

Progress will be assessed according to the following measures of success:

  • Demonstrated increased collaboration and communication amongst operators and between operators and other stakeholders, thereby facilitating incident prevention.
  • Enhanced confidence amongst the offshore workforce, government, regulators and the broader public in safety and sustainability of the industry, including industry’s ability to respond to oil spills.
  • Improved skills and competencies related to recognizing abnormal situations, alarms and weak signals.
  • The identification of additional opportunities for improvement, including additional research and development priorities.

The last word

The continuous improvement journey is ongoing and the industry intends to keep working together to elevate performance.

“We are confident that we have the right people, tools, leadership, commitment and ability to operate safely and responsibly,” says Barnes. “We also understand that there is room for improvement, particularly in how we collaborate.”