The 2004 Biennial International Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) conference on the Oil and Gas industry in Nigeria was held in Presidential Hotel, Port Harcourt from the 6th – 8th of December 2004.
This is the eleventh edition of the conference, which has been serialized since its inception in 1979, and marks the second with the change in concept, which started with the Abuja edition of 2002.
In keeping with our culture of innovations apart from broadening the international base of the conference by deliberately reaching out to particular authors for solicited presentations on some topical issues on Health and Safety in the industry, we have also introduced an expanded plenary and interactive session, which drew out policy contributions from various captains of industry and top representatives of government.
The hallmark of the conference is that far-reaching recommendations are made to be implemented by various agencies of government and the industry.
We are glad to note that one of such recommendations, which are to ensure the regularity of the conference on a biennial basis, is being achieved.
This undoubtedly is with the committed support of:
• OPTS Members
• NAIPEC Members
• Down Stream Operator
• Oil and Gas Industry Sector
• Nigerian Maritime Authority
• and DPR – MPR as Coordinators
Our drive to elevate the standard of the conference manifested in over 120 technical paper abstracts received for the conference under the broad topical areas advertised.
The technical paper sub-committee carried out a painstaking exercise to evaluate the abstracts and came up with the optimum best that was presented within the available time. You will also find some papers that are of fairly good quality that were not presented but published in the proceedings.
Essentially, the conference format featured the first plenary session where a solicited paper by BARR. CERONTO DOUGLAS on the “Dichotomy of legislation in the Environment between the Federal and Component states; Need for an over-riding voice” was presented as a lead paper. This was deliberate by the conference to solicit for contributions and to capture the attention of various policy makers from government who graced the opening sessions of the conference.
The paper tried to capture in essence, the pestering problem of divergent regulatory guidelines within the various industrial sectors in the country and at different levels of government i.e. the Federal, State and Local councils and the attendant problem of implementation and the burden of reporting problems on the regulated. He concluded by soliciting for an umbrella regulation at the Federal level that would serve as a benchmark for the other sectorial units and various lower levels of government and her agencies to follow.
The second plenary session featured a presentation by the Department of Petroleum Resources, which is the coordinating agency for the organization of the conference, on “An update on the HSE Regulatory Performance on the Department of Petroleum Resources” by Mr. D.O. IRRECHUKWU. This paper was a self evaluation of the DPR's stewardship on the implementation and compliance drive of the department over the period, given the pervading logistic/ fiscal handicaps of the department as a direct arm of the government that operates within its budgeting and fiscal regime, but given all that, the department has consistently made commendable and measurable strides in the HSE regulatory performance and the Oil and Gas sub-sector.
The conference took a broader view of the HSE issues by introducing the Maritime regulators perspective in the second presentation of the plenary sessions in looking at “Safe, Secure and Clean Marine Oil Fields, A Maritime Regulators Perspective”. The presentation was by ARCH. FERDINAND AGU, the Director General of Nigerian Maritime Authority. The presentation brought to force the convergence of compliance efforts by the Oil and Maritime sectors in ensuring a clean marine environment and the moral obligations of the operators in the system.
In the topical courses of Health, Safety and Environment, very exciting papers were presented with some not very common areas of Health issue i.e. Hyperbaric Medicine. The paper presented by Dr. EMMANUEL OKEUGO on Hyperbaric Medical Survey/ Safety in the Oil and Gas Industry in Nigeria, was quite revealing. It finds a strategic place in our HSE development and compliance efforts in the industry (Oil and Gas) especially at this stage when growth in the industry is shifting rapidly towards deep offshore operations.
This was followed closely by another paper that dealt with “ Work Place Drug and Alcohol programmes – mere best practices or mandatory safety requirements for the Oil and Gas Industry in Nigeria” by DR. P.A AJAYI et al. the paper presented an overview of drug and alcohol related problems at work places with some data on cost to the United States of America that has a history of drug abuse and narrowed it down to contemporary issues of HIV/AIDS and its relationship with the peculiar work environment of the Oil and Gas sector. It called for a consistent effort by way of corporate policy in the implementation and enforcement tools and not mere enunciation of best practices.
In the area of Technical Safety, Consciousness and Awareness is as developed as Industrial development in most sectors. A number of very articulate and state of the art presentations and associated exhibitions richly featured in the conference.
The paper on “AN Experience with the Why Tree RCA Technique for incident investigation analysis” by KENNETH E. OWEIBO of CNL, talks about a methodology for conducting an incident analysis in parallel with the investigation. One of the benefits of the analysis process the paper proffers is that, logical analysis can be highlighted and resolved while the investigation is still active. It goes further to state that feedback from the analysis provides the investigator with the means to validate findings, confirm the relevance of hazard management measures and identify new investigation possibilities.
The presentations on technical safety huge as they were, was complemented by the regulators perspective on compliance presented on the paper by G.U AGHA and Eng. EPC ANIBUEZE on the “Challenges in Enforcing Safety Compliance in the Nigerian Petroleum Industry.” The paper opened up by lamenting the initial thrust into the development of the industry, which focused on massive production, little or no focus on safety with resultant losses in human and material results. This trend was however reversed with the development of safety management systems with the incidental gain on positive return on investment in the Oil and Gas Industry in Nigeria. It went further to enunciate the regulatory / enforcement tools in place, some limitations and the enormity of the task of enforcing compliance in such a high- tech sector that operates in most of the challenging terrains.
Over the years since the inception in 1979, environmental issues have dominated the number of abstracts and the eventual presentations that are made at the conference. Hence the shift in emphasis and accentuation of other aspects of HSE issues in the industry. However the global growth in environmental management technology makes it imperative that we cannot diminish the place of environmental issues in the conference. The paper on “ A Systematic Approach to HSE Management in the Down Stream Sector of the Oil and Gas Industry in Nigeria” by Mazi COLEMAN OBASI WAS given prominence because hitherto, there have been pointers and commentaries about the low level of environmental consciousness and practices in the downstream sector of the Industry. The paper recommends that a one-stop-shop approach to start is to implement the OHSAS 18001 (Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems). He posts that this will help the down stream operators achieve standards that will capture their own experiences and serve as a feed back in their technology development for safer and healthier working conditions.
Advancement in global Environmental Management has also caught up with remote sensing as a veritable tool. The paper by JOHN D. NJOKU et al on “Analysis of the Impact of Current Global Warming on forests of Southeastern Nigeria” Rising remotely sensed data is a slight deviation from the core of HSE issues in the Oil and Gas Industry. But it however serves or derives import as benchmark information for the purpose of delineating environmental degradation occasioned by the immediate and present activities of the Industry.
One very touchy issue among contemporary environmentalists and stakeholders in the Niger Delta region is the remediation of impacted/oil polluted sites. There are varying technologies available for managing polluted sites but the DPR has always canvassed the adoption of the best available technology with zero potential of altering the ecosystem permanently. In this drive the paper presented by O.B OGHOR of ADDAX Petroleum and RICHARD W. WHEELER of Leventis Environmental Services Ltd. on “A Case Study of Successful Bioremediation in Nigeria” is very informative. It talks of a practical and recent experience of a Bio-remediated site in their operations using home grown micro organisms to immobilize or transform harmful substances into non toxic compounds and it confirms it as one of the most promising new technologies for treating chemical spills and hazardous waste problems. Just as flare cut is being canvassed for 2008 the industry regulators are also legislating towards zero discharge of some toxic contaminants or wastes in the shallow offshore operations in Nigeria.
One of the papers presented by some international authors; GORDON LORGAN, LUIS FERNANDO, LEON and others on “Bulk Containing and Transfer of Drill Cuttings; Meeting the Challenges of implementing Zero discharge in Nigerian Shallow Offshore operations” gives impetus to their policy direction. The paper goes ahead to justify the need as it is operated in preservation of other seas i.e. North Atlantic, North Sea, the Mediterranean, the Adriatic and the Caspian. It offers a recipe to meet the operational and safety concerns of hauling/handling raw oil-based drill cuttings by pneumatic technology.
Because the deep-sea environment is becoming a big issue in the Oil and Gas Industry operations in Nigeria presently, we partner with the Industry to evolve necessary and implementable regulations that protect our offshore heritage. In fashioning out these guidelines, we have always been guided by risk-based analysis of the dos and don'ts of a particular piece of regulation, the economic/operational implication as against the loss of rights on such a massive gift of nature. That is why SOJI ABOYADE'S paper “Environmental Compliance; Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” deserves mention in this preview. He pivots his discussion on the grounds that National Policy on Environment is premised on the principle of Sustainable development. He goes ahead to define Sustainable Development as widely acknowledged meaning “the judicious and planned use of natural resources for equitable development to meet the needs of the present generation without jeopardizing that of the future generations”. This in essence captures the regulatory approach of balancing the needs of the economy, risk and preservation of our natural resources.
A close look at the glossary on Technical paper abstracts will show that the conference has attracted contributors from diverse areas of endeavors, specialization and from across the globe.
The technical papers have also broadened in both depth and content.
At the end of all the presentations a communiqué was issued from a panel discussion that deliberated on the high points generated from the presentations. Following actions shall be duly and diligently pursued to actualize the recommendations of the conference especially the regularity.
In summary, we believe the seminar has proved too be very useful and therefore urge you to read these proceedings with assurance that you have quite a lot to derive from it. However it is important to note that the DPR collated these papers without editing or an attempt to publish. Opinions expressed or implied in the texts and contents are entirely those of the individual authors.
Please enjoy your reading.
G.U. Agha (fnape)
Chairman, Conference Organizing Committee