DPR stresses importance of operational safety

By Clara Nwachukwu
The Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, the regulator of oil and gas industry operations has reiterated the importance of safe activities, as this will bring about excellent economic performance; Environmental protection; and Well-being of the society.

It said that none of these issues can be stand in isolated, as outstanding performance in any cannot compensate for underperformance in another

The industry regulator also said that in tackling operational challenges, operators must be sensitive to the environment, the people, global best practices as well as the nature of the economy, which is strictly dependent on oil, and the dearth of scientific information on the operating environment.

Speaking recently at the 2011 SPE Annual Oloibiri Lecture and Energy Forum in Lagos, the Director, DPR, Mr. Andrew Obaje, argued that there was the need to create a balance along these matrix.

He decried the practice where some operators compromised safety procedures to increase productivity; non-adherence to procedure guide and permit-to-work; restriction of safety management system to only staff at the expense of third party contractors, thereby leading to increase in operational incidents, as well as the non-implementation of operational safety case

Obaje, who delivered a lecture on: Balancing the Oil Industry Productivity with the Safety and the Environment, defended that the DPR has strived to create a balance among these issues as part of its statutory duties

According to him, the industry regulator has over the years introduced a variety of programmes to balance oil industry productivity with safety of the environment, and has achieved significant successes in this regard through its carrot-and-stick approach.

Waivers predicated on scientific investigation are being issued. We have begun to have some useful information of our environment especially on the physical effects of environmental discharges

Obaje further said that the DPR has been able to create the balance through a number of ways, such as withholding of permits/approvals, while also promising to “invoke sanctions for unauthorized activities and also charge waiver processing fees to discourage business-as-usual and have funds for environmental research and management,” soon.

This will cover activities relating to Offshore Safety Permit; Oil Spill Control and Management; Remediation of Polluted sites; Waste Management; and Environmental Assessment.

He identified the following among a host of others, as contributing to successful industry regulation:

* Establishment of an evolved regulatory regime
* Enforcement of WM hierarchy for O&G wastes
* Establishment of a three-tier oil spill contingency plans (OSCP) and annual activation exercise
* Establishment and optimization of Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA process
* Establishment of continuous monitoring programs
* Pipeline/oil handling facility integrity inspection and maintenance programs
* Establishment of the offshore safety permit
* Implementation of operational safety case, and;
* The biennial conference for the spread of the message of good environmental performance in oil activity.

Furthermore, the DPR boss said the agency is currently mulling additional programmes such as:

• Search and Rescue and Medevac
• Aerial surveillance of oil spills for early spill detection in the offshore region
• Revised EGASPIN to be issued soon
• Issuance of SAGASPIN
• Issuance of minimum requirements for Health Protection and Promotion Programmes

About the Author