The average fatality rate for oil and gas extraction workers is seven times higher than for any other industry, with 88 reported in 2013, caused by a number of factors including inadequate training, hazard identification and risk assessment.
Clearly, in one of the highest-risk category industries, it makes sense from every perspective to take any steps available to minimize the risks and increase the safety of workers and equipment.
Automation is the key to making sustainable, long-term improvements in safety performance.
Where, historically, safety systems have sometimes been implemented and operated independently of other systems, an integrated approach that unifies safety, operations and maintenance ensures that unnecessary trips and shutdowns are minimized, and staff protected.
Facility owners normally upgrade their safety systems for a variety of reasons, ranging from equipment obsolescence to the need to take advantage of the benefits of extended or more advanced functionality. Some of the major drivers include:
Many oil and gas reservoirs continue to generate viable quantities of product well beyond the intended life of the original field design.
Upgrades that accommodate extended operations also can help reduce annual maintenance costs, while simultaneously reducing unplanned downtime and unexpected repair costs.
Currently installed safety systems were designed and built in accordance with the codes and standards in force at the time. Since then, the industry has moved forward and legacy systems have not necessarily been upgraded to current safety standards.
Operational requirements have changed in the last 20 years as technology has advanced to include capabilities such as remote operations, improved diagnostics and simplified interfacing between systems, signifying the arrival of the digital oilfield.
It is this third point where technology has moved on to provide unprecedented opportunities for improvement facility-wide.
Remote monitoring helps to reduce downtime by eliminating the need to fly maintenance specialists out to a problem site, which takes time, costs money and lengthens equipment downtime.
It supports safer working practices in that fewer staff are required to work in hostile environments.
And it addresses the skills gap, with centrally-based experts available in real-time, enterprise-wide, 24/7, making better use of time and reducing wage bills.
Download our free guide for more ways to reduce safety risks and improve asset performance in the oil and gas industry.