HSE Conference Chairman Details Layers of Benefits

Abdulla Al Marzooqi, manager of health, safety, and environment for the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), is the conference chair for the 2018 SPE International Conference and Exhibition on Health, Safety, Security, Environment, and Social Responsibility. The conference will be held 16–18 April in Abu Dhabi.

Abdulla Al Marzooqi

Q: What was the motivation for the conference theme of “Continuing HSSE-SR Excellence for a Sustainable Future”?
The emphasis here is on “continuing.” Our industry has come a long way in driving HSSE-SR (health, safety, security, environment, and social responsibility) excellence. Global benchmarks show that the lost-time-incidents frequency rate is decreasing, which is a promising trend that should encourage the entire industry to maintain focus on health, safety, and environment. At the same time, exploration is shifting into more complex and remote basins, newly developed technologies have been introduced to unlock oil and gas from challenging fields, and regulations have been rapidly evolving. So we have to expect tighter legislation and, added to this, an impending loss of experience and talent through retirement. These fundamental shifts in the industry have inspired the theme for this conference and the need to engage these on a global platform. 

Q: What are some of the main HSE issues and challenges in the industry today, and how will they be addressed at the conference?
There are countless examples across the industry that point toward the undeniable recognition that achieving an improved safety culture, backed by empowered behaviors, and an active rather than passive approach toward competency assurance, compliance, and incident prevention has a direct impact on our industry’s HSSE performance. In essence, people make the difference, so organizations are investing more and more in developing their human resources, and there is much to be learned from the different techniques and agents of success that are practiced globally.

In addition to the personal factors, asset-integrity management and decommissioning are critical topics for the industry, as is environmental impact. The former calls for the right practices to support operations, especially as many production facilities approach their end of design life. The latter highlights the need to collaborate on climate change issues and come up with solutions. One opportunity, for example, is to further increase the utilization of carbon capture, usage, and storage (CCUS) measures in order to safely store and even use an otherwise harmful greenhouse gas. Of course, this needs to be done in a commercially viable way. At ADNOC, we leverage CCUS through our Al Reyadah project (which means “leadership” in Arabic) and we plan to further expand CCUS to reduce environmental footprint and enhance oil recovery—a win/win situation.

Not to be overlooked, either, is the heightened stakeholder awareness of HSE performance, which requires our industry to forge stronger-than-ever relationships with our communities and host governments—from dialogue and creating positive social impact to managing areas of disagreement. Essentially, our efforts need to be focused on maintaining our license to operate and be a good neighbor to the communities we operate in. Here in the UAE, of course, we see a very important additional dimension, which is our contribution to the socioeconomic growth of our country.

With a gathering of subject-matter experts from around the world, the conference aims to shed light on these topics through presentations and panel discussions, encouraging dialogue and debates that enable their successful application.

Q: What HSE trends do you see in the industry in regards to overall cost-cutting strategies of companies? What is the main emphasis?
The changed global business environment has challenged the oil and gas sector globally in many ways, requiring our industry to effectively manage cost and seize new opportunities to unlock and create value. At the same time, our sector is acutely aware that if there is one area not to be compromised on it is HSE. HSE has and will continue to remain the industry’s utmost priority, not only because it is the right thing to do but also because HSE makes solid business sense.

Q: What are some of the noteworthy advances in achieving improved HSE? Have any unique technologies risen to the surface?
Advancements in technology and innovation have made big impacts in their applications throughout the oil and gas value chain, becoming vital in the quest to achieve efficiency and better HSSE performance in more challenging operating environments. Examples are numerous and range from applying new materials or processes that address pipeline corrosion to inspections aided by drones or robots to leveraging fiber optics for leak detection. As part of our 2030 smart growth strategy, ADNOC is exploring how state-of-the-art technologies and applications, such as advanced algorithms; predictive data analytics; and, increasingly, artificial intelligence, could help enhance efficiency, productivity, and profitability across the oil and gas value chain, whilst further increasing safety. The entire industry is definitely on the lookout for game-changing technology.

Q: How do evolving and implemented digital technologies affect HSE?
Big-data analytics and digital platforms are a critical element in HSE performance. Advanced HSE information systems enable users to simplify huge volumes of data, which are difficult to analyze using conventional quantitative tools, to reveal otherwise hidden patterns or trends that present key information to enhance HSE performance and management practices. They also enable a streamlined and more-reliable platform for HSE communication, from crisis management to knowledge sharing, thereby connecting the widely dispersed HSE community in multiple remote operating sites.

Q: Do you see a greater emphasis on HSE from investors? How much effect does this have as companies balance cost-cutting measures, dividends, and investor demands for HSE?
There is no doubt that, across our industry, investors have moved beyond the conventional demand for consistent returns to factor HSE performance and sustainable impact as fundamental elements in their decision-making. With complex projects and megaprojects on the rise and a changed oil-price environment, creating a balance that delivers positive returns for all stakeholders can only be achieved by actively pursuing efficiency and operational excellence and, with that, the right HSE performance. Failure to do so could have lasting effects on a company’s long-term growth and ability to secure investment.  

Q: Are there any other features of the conference you would like to highlight?
In addition to the core agenda of presentations and panel sessions, the conference will feature a host of activities for students who intend to pursue a career in the oil and gas industry. This University Program will include knowledge-sharing sessions and debates on current HSSE topics, as well as a career fair that collectively aim to help students develop new skills, gain exposure to and make contact with global practitioners, and acquire a more-direct understanding of the latest developments, challenges, and opportunities facing the oil and gas sector as well as the diverse HSSE specializations and disciplines available to them.  

Register for the conference here.



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