21 December 2015

Significant improvement in safety performance in the oil and gas sector, according to ARPEL Report

  • Montevideo, December 21, 2015. In the past ten years, the safety performance of oil and gas companies in Latin America and the Caribbean has shown a significant improvement throughout the value chain. This conclusion is evident from the recent report entitled "Evolution of safety performance in the oil and gas industry, 2004-2014," prepared by the Regional Association of Oil, Gas and Biofuels Sector Companies in Latin America and the Caribbean (ARPEL).

    The document was prepared on the basis of statistics compiled by ARPEL on recordable incidents and fatalities reported by its member companies in the last decade and interviews with experts in industrial safety of these companies, with the aim to identify the keys to this improvement as well as the challenges for the future.

    As stated in the report, for the period 2004-2014 the total number of accidents and incidents per million hours worked fell by 18%. Along this period, the fatality rate also decreased by 46%.

    The improvement was general to all the lines of business considered (E&P, Refining, Transportation, Distribution and Others), showing a clear downward trend for both indicators in the majority of the cases.

    In turn, this improvement in performance is accompanied by a 67% increase in the man-hours worked, from an annual average of 1.5 billion hours en 2004 to 2.5 billion in 2014.

    The interviews showed that the key to these improvements lies mainly in an improved safety culture, supported proactively by the companies through the adoption and implementation of management systems and a consistent leadership throughout the process.

    The QHSE Manager of YPFB Transporte, Walter Sarmiento, stated that "years ago, safety work was meeting the specific requirements established by a supervisor. It is now a matter of attitude, employees care for themselves understanding that they do so for their own sake and for their families."

    Gustavo Correa, the Health, Environment and Safety Manager for the Downstream Sector of YPF, stated that "slow and consistent improvements in safety indicators reflect a cultural change in workers, and this is due to leadership." Correa also referred to the work with contractors. "The challenge to improve the management of contractors is to involve them in process safety," he said.

    The Report also states that companies have taken a proactive role in the improvement in safety and have reached a proper agreement with trade unions on the implementation of improvements. They have also been proactive in developing their suppliers to improve their safety standards.

    ARPEL has been collecting and comparing industrial safety statistics since 1997, on the basis of some key reactive indicators (lagging indicators) of widespread use in the industry. The indicators that have been collected since the first reports are: Total Incident Rate, Lost Workday Incident Rate, Incident Severity Rate and Fatality Rate. These indicators are opened by line of business and by company employees or contractors. In turn, in the last few years, proactive indicators have been incorporated with regard to planned observations and training tasks. The aim is to move toward the comparison of indicators of process safety.

    To access the full report on "Evolution of industrial safety performance in the oil and gas sector, 2004-2014," please enter https://arpel.org/library/publication/415/

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