Moving Employees Safely is Critical in Oil & Gas Industry

oil-rigs
The oil, gas and marine industry has always teetered on the brink of unfortunate circumstances. Oil rigs and oil tankers, by the very nature of their massive size and exposure to the elements, are susceptible to myriad dangers. And when those risks materialize, the safety of the men and women operating these maritime behemoths must take top priority.

In the case of a hurricane, energy giant Shell Oil says it begins evacuating non-essential personnel from offshore platforms and drilling rigs, starting with sites closest to the hurricane’s anticipated path. Like Shell, most of the larger oil companies have evacuation down to a science, particularly during hurricane season. In many cases the evacuation from oil rigs or oil tankers is highly manageable, with no more than a few dozen people having to be transported at times. Thus, in most cases, the evacuees can simply grab a taxi, book themselves into a hotel room, or make other similar accommodations.

But what happens when the evacuation is so immense that you are suddenly relocating thousands of workers to the nearest mainland? In October 2014, with the threat of a cyclone ready to batter the Gulf of Mexico, Mexico’s state oil company, Pemex, evacuated 15,000 workers from more than 60 platforms in the Gulf of Mexico—all with the need to be transported and lodged.

Anticipating worst case scenarios is a prerequisite. Although travel by executives at the C-suite level in these types of companies is handled with the highest priority, to deal with the constant movement of lower-level workers, many companies enlist the services of travel management companies to coordinate getting personnel from land to rigs, tankers, drills and pipelines and back. This massive orchestration includes coordinating accommodations, lodging, weather alerts, translation services and other types of ticketing.

Certain industries, such as oil and gas, need to send employees to work in the world’s “hot zones.” According to a USA Today report, three Americans were among 38 workers killed in the 2013 siege of an Algerian gas plant in which Islamic terrorists used hostages as human shields after their attempted mass kidnapping for ransom went awry. Seven U.S. citizens survived the attack. This illustrates that the need to move crews swiftly isn’t always at the mercy of weather conditions. This is where a real-time knowledge of the current political climate is necessary, including the best exit points, and how to travel safely within those countries should the need to evacuate a facility arise.

Other times the challenge includes getting workers from a major airport to a remote location—perhaps where a helicopter undertakes the last leg of the trip out to the site. Oil and gas industry travelers also need to realize that the flight on a major airline to get into a somewhat unstable country isn’t the problem; it’s traveling within the country, where options are often very limited.

Fortunately, the recent boom in technology has helped make personnel travel safer, as they can now receive electronic alerts regarding risks such as natural catastrophes, labor strikes, and changes in flight schedules.

There is the potential for a number of problems to arise when operating these marine locations, both weather-related and man-made. And the cost of finding solutions to these situations can often be crippling and costly to a business, both in terms of valuable staff time wasted as well as the difficulty in finding the time or the resources to source viable, inexpensive travel alternatives.

Risk Link Roundup

Link Roundup

Here are a few recent articles highlighting some interesting issues that impact the world of risk and insurance. They include information about Hurricane Patricia’s impact on Mexico, corruption in China, the impact of women chosen for cybersecurity posts, some of the deadly dangers present in enclosed areas of ships and a survey about the level of social responsibility of chief executive officers in relation to the gender of their children.

Lessons of Past Disasters Helped Mexico Sidestep the Brunt of a Hurricane

Meteorologists called Hurricane Patricia one of the most ferocious ever seen in the Western Hemisphere, a monster bearing down with unprecedented energy on the Pacific coast of Mexico on Friday as residents and tourists evacuated or hunkered down in fear. But just hours later, the storm had passed over and, despite uprooted trees, landslides blocking some roads and the destruction of humble homes, there were no immediate reports of any deaths or damage to major infrastructure.

China Probes Graft in Angola Oil Deals

Wall Street Journal: Anticorruption investigators are zeroing in on oil deals in Angola by one of China’s biggest energy companies, part of President Xi Jinping’s nearly three-year probe into graft in the industry.

Why Corporate Boards are Picking Women to Fill Cybersecurity Posts

BloombergBusiness: Earlier this year, American International Group Inc. added Linda Mills to its board, attracted partly by her expertise in cybersecurity. In February, Wells Fargo & Co. selected Suzanne Vautrinot for its board for similar reasons. Before that, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. picked Janice Babiak. All directors, all focused on cybersecurity, all women.

Safety: The Unseen Killer

MarineLog: Accidents resulting in death or injury on board ships in enclosed spaces continue to occur at unacceptable rates. A shift in the approach to safety management of enclosed spaces on board ships is needed.

CEOs with Daughters Run More Socially Responsible Firms

Harvard Business Review: Henrik Cronqvist of the University of Miami and Frank Yu of China Europe International Business School compared the corporate social responsibility ratings of S&P 500 companies with information about the offspring of their chief executive officers. The researchers found that when a firm was led by a CEO with at least one daughter, it scored an average of 11.9% higher on CSR metrics and spent 13.4% more of its net income on CSR than the median.