Dubai: With effects of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico still to abate, energy experts have called for a 'paradigm shift' in organisational focus of the energy sector to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.
Darryl Hill, Vice President for Safety & Health North America at ABB said that in the wake of environmental disasters such as Deepwater Horizon, the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry, lessons learned and subsequent recommendations are still not being integrated into long-term health, safety and environment (HSE) management systems.
"A paradigm shift is needed in organisational thinking to sustain HSE performance in the energy sector. Improving safety culture and preventing catastrophic events requires discipline and fortitude.
Too often organisations improve their HSE performance, and then become complacent, subsequently resulting in a tragic incident," said Hill in a statement.
Hill will address more than 350 delegates at the 8th Annual HSE Forum in Energy, taking place from 8-10 October in Doha, Qatar.
The event will put a spotlight on the latest developments and technological solutions essential to ensuring the effective health and safety management and sustainable environmental practices in the energy sector.
Hill said that while the HSE profession and organisations in the oil and gas industry generally do well in identifying causal factors in catastrophic events, they must do better to sustain improved safety culture, while ensuring continuous improvement throughout the sector.
"The main challenge in organisations in the oil & gas sector is that management is confronted with competing interests such as safety, productivity, schedule and quality. Many times safety is not valued, thus it loses its focus, even when organisations are aware of why past catastrophes have occurred," he said.
Olu Adeolu, Head of Safety at the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) in Qatar, and another speaker at the HSE Forum in Energy said that the oil & gas industry is learning from past mistakes, albeit at a gradual and inconsistent pace.
"HSE standards continue to vary significantly from one company to the other, and also from one oil & gas producing country to the other. There tends to be a flurry of activity after a major incident but once media attention moves on, impetus for change seems to reduce accordingly," said Adeolu.