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Drilling It Safely

Drilling Ahead: Boom/bust: Nothing new under the sun

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The reviews are in, and this is the worst downturn since the 1980s. After the baby bust of 2008-09, it was easy to think, “This too shall pass.” But, as one frustrated exec told me on the cusp of the Great Downturn, “We worked every angle from the 2009 playbook, but nothing succeeded.” During the 2009 downturn, gas went flat as swollen inventories cratered prices. But liquids and crude prices still soared. We don’t have an escape route this time.

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Research project aims to improve safety by learning from success

Figure 1: This simplified model for success, failure and variability illustrates how individuals handle deviations from normal variation in work performance.

Many theories, concepts and perspectives are available to the petroleum industry to help it understand failure. Similarly, there is a rich array of methods to analyze the causes of accidents and critical events. A great effort is put into such analyses and dissemination of results, by the industry and by national authorities. However, when it comes to successful operations, the industry lacks the language and theoretical “infrastructure” to conceptualize success. Further, there is a scarcity of methods for analyzing and learning from successful operations.

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Improved techniques, mixing units can minimize crew exposure to caustic soda on drilling rigs

Many companies in the drilling industry still use traditional techniques for mixing caustic soda. This includes using 55-gal barrels with connected paddles to facilitate the mixing operation. Some drilling companies, however, have upgraded their units by adding an electrical motor for agitation purposes, instead of using manual handles.

Hazardous substances cause 74,000 work-related deaths in EU countries each year. This indicates that more people die from dangerous substances than from workplace incidents. Caustic soda is one of the hazardous substances. A significant number of employees are away from work due to caustic soda skin burns, which can take weeks or months to heal.

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