QHSE: Tightening Up Standards

QHSE: Tightening Up Standards pp 84-85

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QHSE: Tightening Up Standards pp 84-85As QHSE standards continue to rise in the offshore oil and gas industry, Atlantic Supply Base pushes the envelope on its own operations while increasing compliance requirements for its subcontractors — disrupting the status quo..

In the period leading to this year’s (2014) exploration activities offshore the Faroe Islands, the country’s only oil supply base has been undergoing a fresh round of facilities maintenance alongside a review of procedures and polices relating to QHSE (quality, health, safety, environment) management. In the process Atlantic Supply Base has advised local subcontractors on the latest compliance requirements for working with the offshore oil and gas industry — raising an eyebrow or two, according to ASB managing director Eli Lassen.

“The oil and gas industry operates under very strict QHSE standards and these standards are frequently updated,” he said.

“For ASB and our subcontractors, we need to make sure that our processes and arrangements are always in keeping with the standards and practices outlined by the oil companies.”

That involves, for example, reporting and information management — something that remains counterintuitive for many in the Faroes, where contractual relationships are often oral and informal. In other words, complying with oil industry standards can prove somewhat challenging for the uninitiated.

“This safety and compliance culture is still new for some companies and in that respect you may say we’re on an educational mission,” Mr. Lassen said. “However,” he added, “we do see a change of mentality. Call it a revolution in slow motion — from a local, traditional point of view, we’re introducing a whole new way of doing business.”

Over the last couple of years, ASB has developed and successfully implemented a QHSE management system based on specifications from the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (OGP). “We have spent considerable resources on the system but we believe nonetheless that we will see a good return on the investment,” Mr. Lassen said in connection with the implementation of ASB’s OGP-compliant system back in 2012.

“This system adds a layer of administration that you won’t normally see in this country. Yet it’s essential in the oil and gas industry, so much so that you need to have it if you want to be part of this industry. So we have to be able to log, document, trace and analyze every incident, every near-incident, every deviation from standard, every disruption, and — depending on where responsibility lies — either take corrective action ourselves or request it from those we work with.”

ASB has long been ISO 9001 certified. In the oil and gas industry, however, the process requirements and guidance on QHSE management from the OGP carries considerably more weight, Mr. Lassen said. “Having an OGP-compliant QHSE management system in place is the de facto industry standard. It’s a minimum requirement for operating in the industry.”

Having successfully served as supply base for all drilling campaigns to date in the Faroes, ASB is looking ahead with confidence as work on the eighth exploration well is set to resume in the summer, alongside the spudding of the ninth well, both with Statoil as operator.

“ASB performance … was exemplary in terms of HSE and operational performance,” as one of the oil companies stated according to a customer satisfaction survey, adding: “Zero incidents or rig down time experienced. The entire Faroes team embraced the … safety culture with enthusiasm and energy always looking to go, and going the extra mile to satisfy the offshore customer.”

With maritime agency contracts for all the support vessels involved in the exploration activities, ASB has expanded its core business, offering clients a comprehensive solution through a single point of contact.

The company has two buildings near the Kongshavn Harbor at Runavík, with 1,900 square meters of warehouses, several offices plus a large outdoor area for further storage. In addition to warehousing and storage, ASB key services include, for example, docking, crew change, loading and discharge of goods and equipment, supplies, waste management, and mud mixing.

A former bridge officer in the merchant fleet, as well as a land based oil and gas worker, Mr. Lassen’s skills and working experience put him in a league of his own. Well known for his hands-on and straightforward approach to management, Mr. Lassen says he has had luck in attracting good people to work for ASB.

“Many of our clients have offered highly positive remarks on the services that we provide in liaison with the local port authority,” he added. “They have been impressed with the fact that operations have been smooth, and that the Port of Runavík remains congestion free.”