Our goal is to achieve Nil Incident in the entire Oil & Gas Installations

Hirak Dutta
Executive Director, OISD
Oil Industry Safety Directorate (OISD), the technical directorate of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, is entrusted for safeguarding the safety of personnel, property and machines/equipment as well as surrounding environment and community for the entire gamut of Indian hydrocarbon sector. Hirak Dutta, Executive Director, OISD, spoke exclusively to Offshore World, on the OISD safety standards and regulations and its implementation towards the safety culture of the Indian Oil & Gas Industry.

Please apprise us regulatory measures of OISD towards the safety aspects of entire value chain of Indian hydrocarbon Industry.
Oil Industry Safety Directorate (OISD), the technical directorate of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, is entrusted with the responsibility of formulating safety standards, overseeing its implementation by undertaking periodic safety audits to enhance safety and minimise risks. OISD standards cover the entire gamut of hydrocarbon sector i.e. Exploration & Production, Refining, Gas Processing, Storage & Distribution, Pipeline operations etc.

Our goal is to achieve Nil Incident in the entire Oil & Gas Installations in coordination with the industry. The measures of OISD for enhancing safety areenumerated below:

  • OISD develops Standards/Guidelines/Recommended Practices for the entire Oil and Gas sector thru a participative process involving all the stakeholders(including the public at large), drawing inputs from international standards and adapting them to Indian conditions by leveraging the experience of the constituents. These standards cover inbuilt design safety, asset integrity and best operating practices in the field of production, processing, storage and transportation of petroleum. As on date, OISD has developed 118 technical safety standards for the Oil & Gas industry.
  • OISD carries out periodic safety audits of Oil & Gas installations to monitor their compliance with the OISD standards. The main focus during our audits is on Process safety Management. These are very exhaustive audits; each audit spreads over a period of four to five days and is carried out by a team of domain experts. Critical examinations of all the components of the safety management system viz. management policy & commitment, management attitude towards safety, safety training , review of plant layouts, operation & maintenance practices, emergency preparedness plans, usage of personal protective equipment, fire protection system etc, are integral part of these audits.
  • The findings of the audit are shared both at local level i.e. installation incharge and with the Heads of the respective Organisations . Data banks of the audit recommendations are monitored to check the compliance status thereof on regular basis.
  • Besides, OISD carries out pre-commissioning safety audits of Greenfield projects. These audits are conducted where green-field projects or additional facilities are executed to ensure ab initio compliance of these facilities to the OISD standards to ensure smooth & trouble free commissioning of the projects.
  • OISD also investigates the major incidents of the Industry to analyse the root cause of the incident. A databank of incidents of the ' oil industry is maintained. These are analysed to assess the trends, areas of concern and corrective actions to prevent recurrence. The learnings from each of the incidents are disseminated to the industry through safety alerts, advisory notes, workshops, training programmes, website links etc.
  • Petroleum & Natural Gas (Safety in Offshore Operations) Rules, 2008 were notified in the Gazette of India to regulate safety in offshore oil and gas exploration, production, drilling & related activities; and Oil Industry Safety Directorate was designated as Competent Authority to exercise the powers and functions as stipulated in these rules, 2008 vide Gazette notification issued in June'2008.
  • OISD, as the competent authority to oversee implementation of the Petroleum & Natural Gas (Safety in Offshore Operations) Rules, 2008 accords 'Consent to Operate' to offshore installations including Drilling Rigs. Regular Safety audits of Exploration & Production (both Offshore as well as Onshore) Installations in the country are carried out by OISD.
  • Annual evaluation of Safety Performance of the Industry is done on specific parameters like complexity of the plant, associated hazards, accident free man-hours etc. Organizations, achieving 'exceptional safety performance' during the year, are awarded with the Oil Industry safety Awards. In addition, individuals making exceptional contributions towards the cause of safety in their respective installations are also encouraged and presented with such awards.
While hydrocarbon industry is known as highly hazardous & inflammable because of the potential risks involved in it, what are the measures OISD has been taken to safeguard of the equipment or machines, operators & personnel, etc.
As mentioned above, the Oil Industry Safety Directorate oversees implementation of safety in the Oil & Gas Industry through a series of measures like development of standards, audits, monitoring the implementation of audit recommendations, incident investigation & analysis, organising technical seminars to improve awareness for the entire Oil & Gas Industry.

Safety is the integral part of Operations & Maintenance. Thus the emphasis is on inherent safe design, achieving operational excellence and development of human resources. Some of the major thrust areas are:
  • Incorporation of in-built safety aspects in the design phase itself. These include process safety, instrumentation & safety interlocks, safety while design of equipment following the best International Standards, etc.
  • Review of P & ID for incorporating the Quantitative Risk Assessment (QRA)/Hazard & Operability (HAZOP) studies recommendations.
  • Mounded Bullets storage for Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and construction of Blast Resistant Control Rooms for enhanced safety of personnel and equipment.
  • Development and implementation of well laid down systems and procedures like work permit system, operating manuals entailing start-up , shutdown down, emergency handling procedures, disaster management plan etc.
  • Focus on leading indicators rather than on lagging indicators.
  • Strengthening the Internal Audits.
  • Organisng periodic mock drills (both on-site and off-site) to ensure effective handling of emergency and preparedness etc. Besides the performance of the safety critical equipment, schedule of preventive maintenance, checking of fitness certificates of the equipment, regular competency assessments of the operational personnel, checking of maintenance records are critically examined during audits.
It is also important to safeguard the surrounding community and environment during various activities of Oil & Gas sector. Can you please apprise us the measure OISD has been taken in personnel skill development & training, safety standard audits exercise etc to achieve zero accidents.
Proper training and education of the workforce is one of the key factors to achieve NIL incidents in the industry. Training & Retraining of the workforce, updating their skills and developing competency with emphasis in safety in operation is considered paramount. Some of the measures taken are:
  • Regular release of safety alerts in OISD website,
  • Dissemination of learnings thru case studies which are hosted in OISD web site,
  • Providing faculty assistance to improve awareness on PSM,
  • Sharing knowledge on PSM & latest developments with the member organisations,
  • Publication of safety articles in journals like Hydrocarbon Processing, Petrofed, Petrotech, Loss Prevention etc.
  • Presenting papers in various forums viz. ICC, FICCI, CORCON (NACE), AIChE, IITs, NITs, etc.
  • Organising technical seminars/conferences to discuss the latest technological developments etc.
Can you please apprise us the existing measures and future plans of OISD to achieve world–class safety standards and set up global benchmark and procedures in Indian Hydro carbon sector.
OISD has entered into Memorandum of Understanding with Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), Govt. of USA, Centre for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS) under the aegis of AIChE, USA, and American Petroleum Institute (API), USA to share knowledge, data base on incidents and participate in the standard development process etc.

Through these mutual collaboration processes, our aim is to intensify the process safety management standards in the country. Towards this, we had organised technical seminars with API on Implementation of PSM for the members of Oil Industry Organisations. We would be taking part in APIs standard making process, thereby enriching our safety standards. With BSEE, we have jointly undertaken audit of upstream oil installations and identified thrust areas in E & P business.

Our aim is to benchmark the Leading Indicators/Key Performance Indicators and we continually strive to achieve our objectives.

Technological upgradation & frontal technology are also play major role to accomplish the goal of zero accident. What is your view on it?
Yes, we agree that technology plays a major in enhancing the safety of this vital sector and more and more use of technology would propel us to achieving our ultimate objective of making this Industry as 'Incident Free' .

While we feel that acquisition of Technology might be an easy task but the main challenge lies in assimilation of the technology. It must be borne in mind that knowledge & competency is the key in any sphere of activity right from choosing appropriate technology & design, operation and maintenance and for earning revenue for future growth. Building an asset is easy but challenge lies in its proper maintenance & upkeep.

The Key areas which requires constant focus by every organisation is developing 'Safety Competencies' as a part of core competency. Safe production should be the core focus of any operating facility because safety directly affects productivity, morale and image of an organisation. Thus it is imperative, we focus on learning; learning from the past mistakes; reduce the knowledge gap through dynamic learning processes.

According to you, what should be safety culture to be adopted by the all stakeholders of oil and gas industry to ensure safety, loss of life and property?
The culture of an organisation makes the greatest contribution to its health and safety performance. Unfortunately culture is not an easy concept to understand or measure or manage. Safety culture is usually described in terms of concepts such as 'trust', 'values' and 'attitude'. It can be difficult to describe what these mean, but you can judge whether a company has a good safety culture from what its employees actually do rather than what they say.

I firmly believe that creating a positive safety culture requires commitment from top management. Leaders must 'Walk the Talk'. I am a strong votary of the school of thought that the Safety Culture of an Organisation must be 'Top Driven'.

The need of the hour is that we need Leaders who can live with a chronic sense of unease; who can spot the warning signals of complacency creeping in ; who are willing to sit with peers, subordinates and understand the process safety issues; who are willing to go out on plant visits and conduct safety tours, audits or inspections.

Besides, the Leaders who actively work to remove barriers to the reporting of 'Bad News' & promote an open culture for communication are the ones who earn respect of their stake holders.