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Human Factors Considerations: Midstream Process Safety Integration

  • Type:
    Conference Presentation
  • Conference Type:
    AIChE Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety
  • Presentation Date:
    April 28, 2015
  • Duration:
    30 minutes
  • Skill Level:
  • PDHs:

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Midstream oil and gas companies are coming into their own. For example, according to Deloitte (2014), “Midstream energy companies’ share of overall market value in the oil and gas industry has already risen, nearly tripling over the last six years.”   Midstream operators are becoming the stars of the energy industry, investing $26 billion on new pipelines and facilities in 2012 – a drastic increase from the seven billion spent just six years earlier (Larsson, 2014).

Particularly in the United States due to the success of shale and the increasing possibilities for exportation along with recent accidents and fatalities, more scrutiny is being given to both process safety and the humans in the myriad of midstream systems. In the petroleum industry, midstream activities are often taken for granted, if they are even given any thought.  Midstream, the conduit between upstream (retrieval of crude oil) and downstream (the processing of petroleum products), is deceivingly complex and risk laden.  The process safety issues are many and often the integration of those issues with the elements of crude oil storage and transportation is elusive. 

“Even the best designed, engineered, maintained, and operated pipelines and modes of transportation can be vulnerable to human failures and organizational complexity.” (Smith and Volf, 2013)  Human factors is a tool that integrates humans (and their capabilities and limitations) into highly complex processes and systems.  This discussion describes how the integration of human factors with process safety in crude oil storage, pipeline management, and transportation preserves human safety, organizational credibility, public goodwill, and infrastructure confidence along with investment maximization and preservation.

Each aspect and phase of midstream activities share commonalities with the others and yet each has its own unique aspects and challenges.  This talk describes human factors integration with process safety in the midstream environment.  Issues and considerations common to most facets of midstream enterprises are addressed.  In addition, unique components of each of the midstream factors such as pipelines, transportation – rail, ship, and truck - and logistics and technology are discussed from a human factors perspective.

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