Greenhouse Gas Emission Scopes

Many companies in the energy and process industries have committed to a Net Zero program. Their aim is to cease net emissions of greenhouse gases by a specific year, often 2050. In order to properly define their goal these companies need to identify the emissions for which they are responsible. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published information to do with the “scopes” or…

Nine Pounds of Gold and Peak Oil

Credit: Unsplash Do you want to become super wealthy? Well, there’s plenty of gold in the ocean, it's there for the taking. Ocean waters do hold gold – nearly 20 million tons of it. However, if you were hoping make your fortune mining the sea, consider this: Gold in the ocean is so dilute that its concentration is on the order of parts per trillion. Each liter of seawater contains, on…

The Net Zero Professional

When discussing Net Zero programs a question that people in the energy and process industries frequently ask is, “How will it affect my career? What do I need to do to stay employed?” Professionals in those industries are rightly concerned that their skills will be less needed in a rapidly changing world, particularly in a world where oil companies have stated that they intend to leave the oil…

A Kodak Moment for the Oil Companies

The term “Kodak Moment” originally referred to a rare or special occasion that was captured on (Kodak) film. The term has also come to describe a situation in which a company fails to foresee structural changes in its industry such that the company eventually falls into bankruptcy. The Kodak company was a world leader in film photography. Management of the company understood that digital…

BP Report: Three Emissions Scenarios

In September 2020 the company BP published their 2020 Energy Outlook. The report's Summary states, The Energy Outlook explores the forces shaping the global energy transition out to 2050 and the key uncertainties surrounding that transition. The company makes it clear that they are not predicting the future. The report’s purpose is to outline how energy consumption and production may change…

Global Warming of 1.5°C — IPCC Report

The Paris Agreement In the year 2015 leaders from almost all the nations of the world met in Paris, France. The purpose of the meeting was to develop a program for addressing the looming climate change crisis. Their work resulted in the publication of the ‘Paris Agreement’, also known as COP 21 (Conference of the Parties Number 21). The leaders committed to a goal of keeping the increases in…

The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)

The Organization There are many opinions to do with climate change — its causes, its effects, how quickly it is happening, and whether it is even happening at all. Therefore, the United Nations created the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in the year 1988 in order to provide world leaders with authoritative guidance. At its web site the IPCC says, The Intergovernmental Panel…

The Shape of Energy in a Net Zero World

The transition to Net Zero poses many, many problems. It is much more complicated than simply switching from one form of energy to another and then going on with Business as Usual. Net Zero implies a radical transformation of the way industry works — in effect, a second Industrial Revolution. (The first Industrial Revolution is better called the Fossil Fuel Revolution — it occurred when we…

The Renewable Energy Paradox

Renewable Energy. M.C. Escher's Waterfall (1961) The Paradox Renewables are growing faster than other sources of energy. The fraction of energy provided by renewals is declining. The Net Zero Commitment At the heart of most ‘Net Zero’ programs lies a commitment to transferring our primary energy sources from finite fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) to renewables, which, in…

Hard Times for These Times

We have just released the ebook A Brief History of Process Safety Management. The first chapter shows how safety became a value within industry. No matter how poor a facility's safety performance may be, no one ever says, “Safety doesn’t matter”. But this attitude did not always hold true. In the year 1843 Charles Dickens wrote his book Hard Times for These Times (later shortened to just Hard…

The New PSM Normal (2) — Do Less With More

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything. When more than 22 million people in the United States alone lose their jobs in just a few weeks we have entered a new and different world. There is no going back to an ‘Old Normal’. In the first post in this series, The New PSM Normal (1) — Deflation, I suggest that we are entering a time of deflation, which is defined as a situation where goods and…

The New PSM Normal (1) — Deflation

The last few weeks have changed everything. How long the COVID-19 pandemic will last, how many people will fall ill and how many will die all remain a matter of speculation. Nor do we know the duration of this crisis, but it is probably going to be longer than most people expect. An article in The Atlantic magazine — Our Pandemic Summer — quotes Devi Sridhar, “Everyone wants to know when this…

The New PSM Normal (4) — Automation

If you fly over the offshore platform of the future in a helicopter and look down you will see just two living beings: an operator and a dog. The operator’s job is to feed the dog; the dog’s job is to make sure that the operator doesn’t touch anything. This is the fourth post in our series to do with the ‘New Normal’ as it applies to industrial safety. The series is written on the assumption…

The New PSM Normal (3) — Peak Oil

This post is the third in a series in which we consider how our approach to industrial safety, and process safety in particular, may change in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is early days — no one knows what the ultimate health and economic effects of this frightening event will be. But it seems likely that we are entering a ‘New Normal’. So much has happened so quickly that it is hard to…

SEMS Audits

BSEE (the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement) has issued a summary of its audit findings for offshore facilities and the SEMS rule. (SEMS — the Safety and Environmental Management System rule for offshore safety in U.S waters — is the offshore equivalent of PSM.) It is Safety Alert No. 381 at https://lnkd.in/eGRunKt.

The New PSM Normal (4) — Automation

If you fly over the offshore platform of the future in a helicopter and look down you will see just two living beings: an operator and a dog. The operator’s job is to feed the dog; the dog’s job is to make sure that the operator doesn’t touch anything. This is the fourth post in our series to do with the ‘New Normal’ as it applies to industrial safety. The series is written on the assumption…

The New PSM Normal (7) — Things Feel Different

2020-06-03 In the post SEMS and Risk in 2020 (SEMS if the offshore equivalent of process safety management as applied to U.S. deepwater operations — mostly the Gulf of Mexico), Mick Will, says, The speed with which drastic change has come over our industry is what is so different from past events. While oil price volatility has been something I have dealt with for 42 years, I do not remember…

The New PSM Normal (6) — Alternative Energy Reality Check

2020-05-27 I would like to take a break from talking about this virus this week. (Wouldn’t we all?) Instead, let’s take another long-range look as to where the process industries may be going, and how safety management programs may have to adapt. There is much talk in the oil industry to do with the current low oil prices and how the loss of revenue will lead to a cutback in investment,…

The New PSM Normal (5) — Standards

2020-05-20 In this post I would like to consider how those of us who work in industrial and process safety can help the community at large? The subject came to mind when I was discussing the eventual return of people to church services with a colleague. Our Episcopal diocese has organized a four-phase program for the re-opening of the churches (we are currently in Phase One). Phases Two and…

White Whales and Black Swans: the Revised BSEE Drilling Rules

This article from the online journal The Hill makes some pointed criticisms to do with BSEE’s rolling back of regulations that were introduced following the Deepwater Horizon/Macondo explosion and fire. It states, The Deepwater Horizon disaster laid bare the unfortunate reality of decades of insufficient oversight. Multiple investigations pointed to a deficient safety culture and an atmosphere…

Process Safety and Railroads

One of the themes of these Safety Moments is that different industries have much in common. Therefore, a safety program that works for one industry is likely to be useful and relevant in another. Certainly, each industry has its own specific issues that are not shared with others (some of these are described in Safety Moment #8: “But We’re Different, You Know”). But, as a generalization,…

Hyperloop Generic Safety Study

In Safety Moment #8: “But We’re Different, You Know” we show that risk analysis techniques have much in common across different parts of the process and energy industries. Lessons can be shared across industries such as oil refining, chemicals manufacture, pipeline operations and offshore oil and gas production. But, given that the first word in the phrase Process Safety Management (PSM) is…

The Case for Safety Cases

The Deepwater Horizon/Macondo catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) in the year 2010 demonstrated the need for new safety management regulations. The draft regulations went through various iterations, and the name of the responsible government agency changed twice. In the end, the SEMS (Safety and Environmental Management System) regulation became a requirement for offshore oil and gas…

The Cruise Ship’s Galley

A process safety expert and his wife went on a cruise. Part of the cruise included a tour of the ship’s impressive galley and food-serving facilities. The tour was led by one of the ship’s sous chefs. The process safety expert realized that he was looking at a small chemical plant. In front of him were processes that involved chemical reactions, heat exchange and moderately high pressures. So he…

Use of Safety Moments

You are welcome to use our Safety Moments in your workplace. However please note the following restrictions: The material is copyright Ian Sutton. Normal copyright and fair use restrictions apply. Inform the audience that you received the Safety Moment from the Sutton Technical Books site. You cannot sell the Safety Moment or use it for commercial purposes. After you have presented the…

Lowest Level of Risk (BSEE)

Overview (BSEE Risk) As part of its Well Control Rule BSEE appears to have made a major change in the manner in which offshore risk is to be managed. Section 250.107(a)(3) states, [y]ou must protect health, safety, property and the environment by utilizing recognized engineering practices that reduce risks to the lowest level practicable when conducting design, fabrication, installation,…

Event Tree Analysis

Overview Event Tree Analysis (ETA) uses the same logical and mathematical techniques as Fault Tree Analysis. However, whereas a fault tree analyzes how an undesirable top event may occur, an event tree considers the impact of the failure of a particular component or item in the system, and works out the effect such a failure will have on the overall system risk or reliability. Event trees use an…

Safety and Environmental Management Systems (SEMS)

Overview Following the Deepwater Horizon/Macondo catastrophe in the year 2010 it became clear that substantial improvements were needed to offshore safety management in the United States. The framework of a new rule was already available as API RP 75 - Development of a Safety and Environmental Management Program for Offshore Operations and Facilities (SEMP). This standard was used as the basis…

History of Safety Management in the Process Industries

Video History Safety Management: we have published a 30 minute video package that shows how safety management systems in the process and energy industries have developed during the course of the last 300 years. The YouTube video shown at the end of this page provides a short extract. Historical Sequence We can look at the development of the history of industrial safety programs using the 12…

Hard Times for Culture Change

There has been much discussion in recent years as to how to develop new and improved cultures within the process industries. There appears to be an implicit assumption in these discussions that ours is the first generation to wrestle with the problem of creating a new culture. Nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, it can be instructive to examine how previous generations affected…

Standard Examples

We have developed a set of process safety management standard examples that are used to illustrate some of the concepts and ideas developed in our publications.  Example 1 - Facility Design A process consists of four operating units and a utilities section. A schematic of the system is shown in Figure 1.   Figure 1 - Facility Design Example 2 - Process Flow Figure 2 shows part of Unit 100…

Flammable and Combustible Materials

The material in this article is extracted from Chapter 1 of the 2nd edition of the book Plant Design and Operations and in the ebook 52 Process Safety Moments. A hazard that is of great concern to virtually all process facilities is fire — most of the materials being processed, stored or transported are flammable and/or explosive. Therefore, when designing a process facility, the prevention and…

Stairways and Ladders

The material in this Article has been transferred to https://iansutton.com/safety-moments/safety-moment-97-stairways-laddershttps://iansutton.com/safety-moments/safety-moment-97-stairways-ladders.   Copyright © Ian Sutton. 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Safety Signs

The contents of this Article has been moved to Safety Moment #96: Safety Signs.   Copyright © Ian Sutton. 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Fire Types

The material in this Article has moved to Safety Moment #98: Types of Fire. Copyright © Ian Sutton. 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Lockout Tagout

The content of this Article has moved to Safety Moment #91: Lockout Tagout Copyright © Ian Sutton. 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Two Too Many Common Causes

The contents of this article have been moved to Safety Moment #58: Fukushima-Daiichi - Two Too Many Common Causes. Copyright © Ian Sutton. 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Fault Tree Analysis

The content of this Article has been moved to Safety Moment #94: Fault Tree Analysis. Details to do with the application and use of this technique are provided in the book Process Risk and Reliability Management and in the ebook Frequency Analysis. Copyright © Ian Sutton. 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Pig Launching and Retrieving

This article provides guidance to do with the launching and retrieving of pipeline pigs (also known as scrapers or tools). Pig Launching Below is a schematic of a launcher. In normal operation the fluid (liquid or gas) moves along the line from left to right through the open Main Line valve. The kicker and isolation valves are both closed hence the barrel of the pig launcher is isolated from…

Equipment Isolation Methods

Isolation Methods Positive isolation methods are those which remain effective even if there is equipment failure or operator error. These techniques apply not only to vessels, piping and tanks but also to pneumatic and hydraulic equipment. The sketch shows some of the various isolation techniques that can be used to protect workers in the process industries. The process containing toxic or…

The Fundamentals of Risk

The contents of this Article have been transferred to Safety Moment #93: The Fundamentals of Risk.

Principles of Process Safety Management

The material in this Article has been moved to Safety Moment #81: Principles of Process Safety Management.