Hui Shan

Job Steward at NrgEdge. If you are an Energy Professional (Oil, Gas, Energy) contact me for opportunities
Last Updated: August 27, 2018
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Regulation
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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:

Safety Harness:

· 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

Hard Hats: 

· 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.

Respirators:

· 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.

Ear Plugs

· 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

· 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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Pricing-in The Covid 19 Vaccine

In a few days, the bi-annual OPEC meeting will take place on November 30, leading into a wider OPEC+ meeting on December 30. This is what all the political jostling and negotiations currently taking place is leading up to, as the coalition of major oil producers under the OPEC+ banner decide on the next step of its historic and ambitious supply control plan. Designed to prop up global oil prices by managing supply, a postponement of the next phase in the supply deal is widely expected. But there are many cracks appearing beneath the headline.

A quick recap. After Saudi Arabia and Russia triggered a price war in March 2020 that led to a collapse in oil prices (with US crude prices briefly falling into negative territory due to the technical quirk), OPEC and its non-OPEC allies (known collectively as OPEC+) agreed to a massive supply quota deal that would throttle their production for 2 years. The initial figure was 10 mmb/d, until Mexico’s reticence brought that down to 9.7 mmb/d. This was due to fall to 7.7 mmb/d by July 2020, but soft demand forced a delay, while Saudi Arabia led the charge to ensure full compliance from laggards, which included Iraq, Nigeria and (unusually) the UAE. The next tranche will bring the supply control ceiling down to 5.7 mmb/d. But given that Covid-19 is still raging globally (despite promising vaccine results), this might be too much too soon. Yes, prices have recovered, but at US$40/b crude, this is still not sufficient to cover the oil-dependent budgets of many OPEC+ nations. So a delay is very likely.

But for how long? The OPEC+ Joint Technical Committee panel has suggested that the next step of the plan (which will effectively boost global supply by 2 mmb/d) be postponed by 3-6 months. This move, if adopted, will have been presaged by several public statements by OPEC+ leaders, including a pointed comment from OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo that producers must be ready to respond to ‘shifts in market fundamentals’.

On the surface, this is a necessary move. Crude prices have rallied recently – to as high as US$45/b – on positive news of Covid-19 vaccines. Treatments from Pfizer, Moderna and the Oxford University/AstraZeneca have touted 90%+ effectiveness in various forms, with countries such as the US, Germany and the UK ordering billions of doses and setting the stage for mass vaccinations beginning December. Life returning to a semblance of normality would lift demand, particularly in key products such as gasoline (as driving rates increase) and jet fuel (allowing a crippled aviation sector to return to life). Underpinning the rally is the understanding that OPEC+ will always act in the market’s favour, carefully supporting the price recovery. But there are already grouses among OPEC members that they are doing ‘too much’. Led by Saudi Arabia, the draconian dictates of meeting full compliance to previous quotas have ruffled feathers, although most members have reluctantly attempt to abide by them. But there is a wider existential issue that OPEC+ is merely allowing its rivals to resuscitate and leapfrog them once again; the US active oil rig count by Baker Hughes has reversed a chronic decline trend, as WTI prices are at levels above breakeven for US shale.

Complaints from Iran, Iraq and Nigeria are to be expected, as is from Libya as it seeks continued exemption from quotas due to the legacy of civil war even though it has recently returned to almost full production following a truce. But grievance is also coming from an unexpected quarter: the UAE. A major supporter in the Saudi Arabia faction of OPEC, reports suggest that the UAE (led by the largest emirate, Abu Dhabi) are privately questioning the benefit of remaining in OPEC. Beset by shrivelling oil revenue, the Emiratis have been grumbling about the fairness of their allocated quota as they seek to rebuild their trade-dependent economy. There has been suggestion that the Emiratis could even leave OPEC if decisions led to a net negative outcome for them. Unlike the Qatar exit, this will not just be a blow to OPEC as a whole, questioning its market relevance but to Saudi Arabia’s lead position, as it loses one of its main allies, reducing its negotiation power. And if the UAE leaves, Kuwait could follow, which would leave the Saudis even more isolated.

This could be a tactic to increase the volume of the UAE’s voice in OPEC+, which has been dominated by Saudi Arabia and Russia. But it could also be a genuine policy shift. Either way, it throws even more conundrums onto a delicate situation that could undermine an already fragile market. Despite the positive market news led by Covid-19 vaccines and demand recovery in Asia, American crude oil inventories in Cushing are now approaching similar high levels last seen in April (just before the WTI crash) while OPEC itself has lowered its global demand forecast for 2020 by 300,000 b/d. That’s dangerous territory to be treading in, especially if members of the OPEC+ club are threatening to exit and undermine the pack. A postponement of the plan seems inevitable on December 1 at this point, but it is what lies beyond the immediate horizon that is the true threat to OPEC+.

Market Outlook:

  • Crude price trading range: Brent – US$44-46/b, WTI – US$42-44/b
  • More positive news on Covid-19 vaccines have underpinned a crude price rally despite worrying signs of continued soft demand and inventory build-ups
  • Pfizer’s application for emergency approval of its vaccine is paving the way for mass vaccinations to begin soon, with some experts predicting that the global economy could return to normality in Q2 2021
  • Market observers are predicting a delay in the OPEC+ supply quota schedule, but the longer timeline for the club’s plan – which is set to last until April 2022 – may have to be brought forward to appease current dissent in the group

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November, 25 2020
EIA expects U.S. crude oil production to remain relatively flat through 2021

In the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) November Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), EIA forecasts that U.S. crude oil production will remain near its current level through the end of 2021.

A record 12.9 million barrels per day (b/d) of crude oil was produced in the United States in November 2019 and was at 12.7 million b/d in March 2020, when the President declared a national emergency concerning the COVID-19 outbreak. Crude oil production then fell to 10.0 million b/d in May 2020, the lowest level since January 2018.

By August, the latest monthly data available in EIA’s series, production of crude oil had risen to 10.6 million b/d in the United States, and the U.S. benchmark price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil had increased from a monthly average of $17 per barrel (b) in April to $42/b in August. EIA forecasts that the WTI price will average $43/b in the first half of 2021, up from our forecast of $40/b during the second half of 2020.

The U.S. crude oil production forecast reflects EIA’s expectations that annual global petroleum demand will not recover to pre-pandemic levels (101.5 million b/d in 2019) through at least 2021. EIA forecasts that global consumption of petroleum will average 92.9 million b/d in 2020 and 98.8 million b/d in 2021.

The gradual recovery in global demand for petroleum contributes to EIA’s forecast of higher crude oil prices in 2021. EIA expects that the Brent crude oil price will increase from its 2020 average of $41/b to $47/b in 2021.

EIA’s crude oil price forecast depends on many factors, especially changes in global production of crude oil. As of early November, members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and partner countries (OPEC+) were considering plans to keep production at current levels, which could result in higher crude oil prices. OPEC+ had previously planned to ease production cuts in January 2021.

Other factors could result in lower-than-forecast prices, especially a slower recovery in global petroleum demand. As COVID-19 cases continue to increase, some parts of the United States are adding restrictions such as curfews and limitations on gatherings and some European countries are re-instituting lockdown measures.

EIA recently published a more detailed discussion of U.S. crude oil production in This Week in Petroleum.

November, 19 2020
OPEC members' net oil export revenue in 2020 expected to drop to lowest level since 2002

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts that members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will earn about $323 billion in net oil export revenues in 2020. If realized, this forecast revenue would be the lowest in 18 years. Lower crude oil prices and lower export volumes drive this expected decrease in export revenues.

Crude oil prices have fallen as a result of lower global demand for petroleum products because of responses to COVID-19. Export volumes have also decreased under OPEC agreements limiting crude oil output that were made in response to low crude oil prices and record-high production disruptions in Libya, Iran, and to a lesser extent, Venezuela.

OPEC earned an estimated $595 billion in net oil export revenues in 2019, less than half of the estimated record high of $1.2 trillion, which was earned in 2012. Continued declines in revenue in 2020 could be detrimental to member countries’ fiscal budgets, which rely heavily on revenues from oil sales to import goods, fund social programs, and support public services. EIA expects a decline in net oil export revenue for OPEC in 2020 because of continued voluntary curtailments and low crude oil prices.

The benchmark Brent crude oil spot price fell from an annual average of $71 per barrel (b) in 2018 to $64/b in 2019. EIA expects Brent to average $41/b in 2020, based on forecasts in EIA’s October 2020 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO). OPEC petroleum production averaged 36.6 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2018 and fell to 34.5 million b/d in 2019; EIA expects OPEC production to decline a further 3.9 million b/d to average 30.7 million b/d in 2020.

EIA based its OPEC revenues estimate on forecast petroleum liquids production—including crude oil, condensate, and natural gas plant liquids—and forecast values of OPEC petroleum consumption and crude oil prices.

EIA recently published a more detailed discussion of OPEC revenue in This Week in Petroleum.

November, 16 2020