Evolution of safety clothing and equipment in the energy sector
The frontline professionals in the energy sector are exposed to numerous life-threating activities and hazards. Danger lurks around every corner, right from working in well foundations, to erecting lease tanks to chemical treatments or hydraulic fracturing wells. Even in the presumably safe environments like refineries, certain activities pose threats like process sampling, handling or recharging catalyst or inspection. Also, the off-shore drilling offers risk due to hydrogen sulfide gas, use of heavy metals and the presence of benzene in the crude. Even during shutdowns and repairs, the risk is high. The workers are also exposed to fires and flames and hence require comprehensive safety measures and equipment to work without risk.
Evolution of Personal Protective Equipment
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), is referred to the equipment that is worn by workers to minimize the exposure to workplace related hazards and injuries. It includes but is not limited to respirators, hard hats, gloves, safety harnesses, safety glasses, earplugs, bodysuits, and steel-toed shoes. During the industrial revolution, the PPE was put in place to minimize the workplace injuries. However, with time it has become more efficient at protecting the overall well-being of the workforce. So, let us track the evolution of some key safety equipment and clothing in the energy sector over the period:
· Back in the 1900s, industrial workers used hemp or natural fiber body belt to protect from injuries. However, these belts did not have shock-absorption properties.
· In 1959, shock absorption property was incorporated into the safety belts. This helped the workers to reduce or eliminate injury caused due to fall.
· In the 1990s, there were more improvements such as snap hook connectors, D-rings, and full-body harness. It transformed the fall prevention system for better
· As per the article published in Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) magazine, the gold miners created the bowler hat to protect themselves from the debris that falls while working in the mines. It had rounded brims and hard exterior, while the interior was stuffed with cotton.
· The Golden Gate Bridge project is considered as the first major project that made it compulsory for all the workers to wear a hard hat. The hat was crafted using canvas and it had an internal suspension system.
· After some time, an aluminum hat was introduced but was soon discontinued due to its side-effects: corroding and electricity conduction.
· In 1950’s thermoplastic was used to construct hat; these hats were easily molded and hence uniformity in the hats was introduced. Hard hat has not been improved much, however additional accessories like earplugs or Bluetooth technology has been introduced to enhance the comfort level.
· Roman Empire created the first respirator which was made out of the animal bladder and was used by the miners to prevent inhalation of iron oxide dust.
· In the middle of the 1800s, the charcoal gas filter mask was introduced. After two decades it was further improved and was known as “fireman’s respirator.” But, the respirators were not widely accepted until 1900.
· In the 1970s, the safety equipment manufacturers created Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPR) which comprised of a blower and filter inside a helmet. It was widely used in the areas where the face and eye contamination were the concern.
· However, most respirator even today use simple technology that helps in respiration. PAPR is still in the growing stage.
· Do you know the earliest reference to the earplugs were found in Greek Drama, The Odyssey? During those times, it was used to block the songs of the siren. The sailors used beeswax as earplugs.
· In the early 1900s, earplugs were used in the densely populated neighborhood and was made of cotton and wax. These benefits were then marketed to the industry.
· In the 1960s, foams were used to make earplugs and after a decade, polyurethane was used.
· Some years later, the thermal plastic elastomer was used as it was easier to shape the earplugs and it offered better comfort and fit.
· In the recent years, numerous technological advancements have been made with noise cancellation technology, mic, recorders and extra grip earplugs. The idea is to encourage workers to use it to eliminate any chance of hearing impairment.
· Safety glasses were first introduced by a tribe in Alaska which used it to prevent snow blindness. Later, this idea was adopted, and the safety glasses were used to protect the eyes from various contaminants such as dust, splashes, heat, glare, and wind.
· In the energy sector, the workers are expected to wear it full-time. Now, it has been aesthetically designed to make it more fashionable. Even the prescription-based safety glasses have been introduced. Just by wearing glasses, a lot of vision-related injuries can be avoided.
Since the mid-20th century, safety clothing and equipment have evolved significantly. The standardization and safety policies have also helped in encouraging workers to use the PPE which in turn has helped in reducing the rate of injuries and illness at the workplace.
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U.S. crude oil production in the U.S. Federal Gulf of Mexico (GOM) averaged 1.8 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2018, setting a new annual record. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects oil production in the GOM to set new production records in 2019 and in 2020, even after accounting for shut-ins related to Hurricane Barry in July 2019 and including forecasted adjustments for hurricane-related shut-ins for the remainder of 2019 and for 2020.
Based on EIA’s latest Short-Term Energy Outlook’s (STEO) expected production levels at new and existing fields, annual crude oil production in the GOM will increase to an average of 1.9 million b/d in 2019 and 2.0 million b/d in 2020. However, even with this level of growth, projected GOM crude oil production will account for a smaller share of the U.S. total. EIA expects the GOM to account for 15% of total U.S. crude oil production in 2019 and in 2020, compared with 23% of total U.S. crude oil production in 2011, as onshore production growth continues to outpace offshore production growth.
In 2019, crude oil production in the GOM fell from 1.9 million b/d in June to 1.6 million b/d in July because some production platforms were evacuated in anticipation of Hurricane Barry. This disruption was resolved relatively quickly, and no disruptions caused by Hurricane Barry remain. Although final data are not yet available, EIA estimates GOM crude oil production reached 2.0 million b/d in August 2019.
Producers expect eight new projects to come online in 2019 and four more in 2020. EIA expects these projects to contribute about 44,000 b/d in 2019 and about 190,000 b/d in 2020 as projects ramp up production. Uncertainties in oil markets affect long-term planning and operations in the GOM, and the timelines of future projects may change accordingly.
Source: Rystad Energy
Because of the amount of time needed to discover and develop large offshore projects, oil production in the GOM is less sensitive to short-term oil price movements than onshore production in the Lower 48 states. In 2015 and early 2016, decreasing profit margins and reduced expectations for a quick oil price recovery prompted many GOM operators to reconsider future exploration spending and to restructure or delay drilling rig contracts, causing average monthly rig counts to decline through 2018.
Crude oil price increases in 2017 and 2018 relative to lows in 2015 and 2016 have not yet had a significant effect on operations in the GOM, but they have the potential to contribute to increasing rig counts and field discoveries in the coming years. Unlike onshore operations, falling rig counts do not affect current production levels, but instead they affect the discovery of future fields and the start-up of new projects.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Refinery Report
The API gravity of crude oil input to U.S. refineries has generally increased, or gotten lighter, since 2011 because of changes in domestic production and imports. Regionally, refinery crude slates—or the mix of crude oil grades that a refinery is processing—have become lighter in the East Coast, Gulf Coast, and West Coast regions, and they have become slightly heavier in the Midwest and Rocky Mountain regions.
API gravity is measured as the inverse of the density of a petroleum liquid relative to water. The higher the API gravity, the lower the density of the petroleum liquid, so light oils have high API gravities. Crude oil with an API gravity greater than 38 degrees is generally considered light crude oil; crude oil with an API gravity of 22 degrees or below is considered heavy crude oil.
The crude slate processed in refineries situated along the Gulf Coast—the region with the most refining capacity in the United States—has had the largest increase in API gravity, increasing from an average of 30.0 degrees in 2011 to an average of 32.6 degrees in 2018. The West Coast had the heaviest crude slate in 2018 at 28.2 degrees, and the East Coast had the lightest of the three regions at 34.8 degrees.
Production of increasingly lighter crude oil in the United States has contributed to the overall lightening of the crude oil slate for U.S. refiners. The fastest-growing category of domestic production has been crude oil with an API gravity greater than 40 degrees, according to data in the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Monthly Crude Oil and Natural Gas Production Report.
Since 2015, when EIA began collecting crude oil production data by API gravity, light crude oil production in the Lower 48 states has grown from an annual average of 4.6 million barrels per day (b/d) to 6.4 million b/d in the first seven months of 2019.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Monthly Crude Oil and Natural Gas Production Report
When setting crude oil slates, refiners consider logistical constraints and the cost of transportation, as well as their unique refinery configuration. For example, nearly all (more than 99% in 2018) crude oil imports to the Midwest and the Rocky Mountain regions come from Canada because of geographic proximity and existing pipeline and rail infrastructure between these regions.
Crude oil imports from Canada, which consist of mostly heavy crude oil, have increased by 67% since 2011 because of increased Canadian production. Crude oil imports from Canada have accounted for a greater share of refinery inputs in the Midwest and Rocky Mountain regions, leading to heavier refinery crude slates in these regions.
By comparison, crude oil production in Texas tends to be lighter: Texas accounted for half of crude oil production above 40 degrees API in the United States in 2018. The share of domestic crude oil in the Gulf Coast refinery crude oil slate increased from 36% in 2011 to 70% in 2018. As a result, the change in the average API gravity of crude oil processed in refineries in the Gulf Coast region was the largest increase among all regions in the United States during that period.
East Coast refineries have three ways to receive crude oil shipments, depending on which are more economical: by rail from the Midwest, by coastwise-compliant (Jones Act) tankers from the Gulf Coast, or by importing. From 2011 to 2018, the share of imported crude oil in the East Coast region decreased from 95% to 81% as the share of domestic crude oil inputs increased. Conversely, the share of imported crude oil at West Coast refineries increased from 46% in 2011 to 51% in 2018.
Headline crude prices for the week beginning 7 October 2019 – Brent: US$58/b; WTI: US$52/b
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