The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Bakken Hits Sweet Spot

Graham Marshall - Saturday, June 02, 2012

Great news for the citizens of North Dakota and the oil patch workers in the Bakken unconventional oil field.

News reports are highlighting that in just five-years, ND unconventional oil production has moved the State from 7th place in US oil production to 2nd spot.

Having overtaken Alaska, only Texas is now producing more oil that the Bakken shale oil.

We at the Risk Management Tool Box are proud to have played a small part over the last six years in assisting to keep workers safe in the Bakken field. 

Long may it continue!

Water Truck Roll-over

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) requires its membership to report high-potential incidents as part of the safety performance reporting process.

High-potential incidents (HiPOs) are defined by APPEA as any "accident, event, or happening of a serious nature that: results in a Major Accident Event (MAE) performance standard not being met; results in a loss of containment; or could cause a fatality or multiple fatalities".

APPEA distributes HIPO Alerts for the Australian oil and gas industry to highlight learnings from HIPO incidents.

The HIPO Alert found here, highlights an incident in which a water-carting truck rolled-over when going around a corner too quickly. 

The alert offers some important "lessons learned" for future consideration.

Facts on Fracking

Graham Marshall - Friday, May 11, 2012

At the Risk Tool Box, we make no apologies for our belief in the benefits to be found by society from the development of unconventional sources of hydrocarbons.

When it comes to coal seam gas, shale gas and unconventional oil, these benefits have come about because of two newly developed and wonderful technologies - these being - directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

Enclosed here is a fact sheet that addresses the science lying behind unconventional natural gas production, with a particular focus on the responsible development of natural gas from dense shale formations thousands of feet below the earth’s surface.

The exploitation of unconventional gas and oil gives us efficient access to vast new supplies of cleaner energy, resulting in more jobs, less dependence on foreign oil and a cleaner, smarter energy future for Australia

Having worked first-hand in the unconventional business for the last 5-6 years, we'll all in favour of directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing.


Stand Together for Safety 2012

Graham Marshall - Saturday, May 05, 2012

In 1953, West Australian Petroleum Pty Ltd (WAPET) discovered high-grade crude oil in its Rough Range-1 well, drilled near Exmouth in WA.  The first oil discovered in Western Australia.

In response to its early success, WAPET continued with its onshore exploration in the Rough Range, going on to drill a further ten exploratory wells - all were dusters.

WAPET, however, had deemed it unnecessary to acquire much of the offshore Carnarvon and Canning basins, as it was then beyond the reach of existing technology to explore and produce in the offshore environment.

Instead, the offshore area of the Carnarvon and Canning basins would be taken up by Woodside in 1963.

At the time, Woodside's offshore projects were "unconventional" sources of hydrocarbons in so much as they required greater than industry-standard levels of technology and investment to harvest.  But they've gone on to create vast wealth for the State of Western Australia, thousands of jobs, and a plentiful energy supply for society.

If we fast forward the 59 years to 2012, our generation of oil-field professionals stand on the cusp of a new "unconventional" hydrocarbon revolution which is likely to dwarf the Northwest shelf endeavors of the earlier generation.

The unconventional today are those relating to shale gas to be found in four main prospective areas across Australia.

The prospective areas are the Cooper Basin in SA and Queensland, the Maryborough Basin in Queensland, and the Perth Basin and Canning Basin in WA.

According to a report commissioned by the U.S. Energy Information Agency (June, 2011), Australia has 396 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable "unconventional" shale gas across the four basins.

This is equivalent to about 20 per cent of the combined equivalent resources of Canada, Mexico and the United States. 

Although there is huge potential for the shale gas in Australia, activity is still very much in its infancy. 

There have been very few exploration wells drilled, no appraisal programs conducted, and no commercial production.

There have been, however, public protests about the environmental implications of exploitation of unconventional shale gas; particularly about hydraulic fracturing.

Because the organized environmental lobby is already running its mis-information campaign on unconventionals; in order to achieve success with unconventional shale gas in Australia, all players must focus maximum effort on appropriate risk management and in ensuring operations are coordinated safely across the project life-cycle.

Procedures, processes, supervision and leadership for HSE need to be in place across:

+   Front end civil works for road constructions, pad development and such like;

+   Drilling operations;

+   Hydraulic fracturing;

+   Coil Tubing;

+   Flowback;

+   Well completion rigs;

+   Production construction and pipelines;

+   Production Operations; and

+   On-going maintenance and operations.

The community must be convinced by our efforts at risk management.  We must stand together for safety in order to ensure the viability and society-wide benefits to be gained by exploiting shale gas across Australia. 

At the Risk Tool Box, we look to APPEA to take the lead role in moving the industry focus beyond the now-conventional exploration and production on the NW Shelf, Bass Strait and the Cooper basin, and get Australia moving on into the unconventional future.

And we're already doing our bit to make sure safety is paramount across the unconventionals life-cycle.



Unconventional Oil

Graham Marshall - Thursday, April 26, 2012

Unconventional oil fields are those that have needed higher than industry-standard extraction technology and greater levels of investment to explore and produce.

At one time, sub-sea sources of oil from the continental shelves - the Gulf of Mexico, North-sea and Australian NW-Shelf were "unconventional".

Today, however, the two most common types of unconventional oil are found onshore in oil-bearing shale and the oil-sands.

Up until the mid-1990s, with simpler, cheaper and more readily available sources of oil available from the Middle-East and elsewhere, unconventional oil was overlooked.

But with higher prices for oil and a desire in the USA for energy security and a reduced reliance on Arab oil, domestic investment in unconventional oil has risen dramatically.

The result is that these new sources of oil are coming onstream in North Dakota, Ohio, Texas and elsewhere.

Whether by luck or good judgement, the Risk Management Toolbox has been at the forefront of safety implementation in unconventional oil development since our business began.

Our cornerstone customers in the Bakken (ND) and the Surat basin (Queensland) have kept us busy because they've come to know that our unconventional approach to HSE is proven!

We think we're fortunate to have been a leader in developing safe systems of work for the unconventional oil sector.

And we know we're lucky to work with unconventional businesses that see value beyond the conventional - whether it be conventional oil and gas, or conventional safety programs. 

We love working with unconventional leaders!  It's what makes us get up in the morning!

Unconventional Gas

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Unconventional gas resources are those that typically have required greater than industry-standard levels of technology or investment to harvest.

The three most common types of unconventional gas resources are tight sands, coalseam methane (CSM), and shale gas.

In early times, with simpler, cheaper and more readily available sources of hydrocarbons at hand, unconventional gas was overlooked.

But with the search for newer and more secure sources of energy, particularly in the USA, which no longer wishes to be reliant on middle-eastern oil, has come increased investment in unconventional gas exploitation.

The result is that these new sources of gas are now abundant and the price of gas is at record lows as more projects come onstream

The Risk Management Toolbox has been at the forefront of safety implementation in unconventional gas development since our business began.

You could say that our business success is built on being unconventional! 

And it is this unconventional approach that our customers have come to expect.

The cornerstone customers of our business come to us because they know we consistently strived to develop unconventional methods of making HSE work.

And that is why the Risk Tool Box is at the forefront in developing safe systems of work for the unconventional gas sector.

So, if you're on the look-out for unconventional ways to get your safety program rolled-out, it might just be time for you to act in an unconventional manner. You can contact us via the "contact us" page of the website.

Coal Bed Methane Indonesia Conference, 2012

Graham Marshall - Sunday, March 25, 2012

The inaugural Coal Bed Methane Indonesia Conference will occur on the 14th & 15th May 2012 at the Conrad Hotel in Bali.

The theme of the CBM Conference is on optimizing the potential of CBM towards commercialization.

According to the conference organizers, the conference aims to promote the opportunities in Indonesia's Coal Bed Methane industry .

Best of all - in my opinion - is the opportunity it provides to spend a couple of days at the Conrad Hotel in Bali - which just happens to be my favourite place to stay whenever I visit Bali.

The conference will revolve around the following themes:

- Regulatory and Legal Framework Impacting Indonesia's CBM Industry;

- Indonesia and Global Unconventional Gas Developments;

- Meeting Indonesia's Energy Demands with CBM Gas Developments;

- Attracting Investments for Growing Indonesia's CBM Industry;

- Serving the Coal Bed Methane Industry Needs;

- Global Unconventional Gas Market Commercialization Experiences;

- Early Stage CBM Commercialization in Indonesia; and

- Implementing Sustainable and Economic CBM Growth.

It would appear that as the industry begins to move past its infancy stage, Coal Bed Methane Indonesia 2012, will be timely for industry stakeholders and investors looking to benefit from the potential of Indonesia's rich CBM reserves.

To access the conference brochure, simply click here.



Unconventional Hydrocarbons

Graham Marshall - Thursday, March 15, 2012

Unconventional - adjective - not based on or conforming to what is generally done or believed: "his unconventional approach to life".

At the Risk Tool Box, we've build a successful business over 15-years by NOT doing safety the same way as everyone else.  And it is this unconventional approach that is proven to work!

Starting with our unique Think 6, Look 6 approach to describe the hazard and risk management process, all the way to how we deliver hazard awareness training - without PowerPoint - we've consistently strived to develop unconventional methods of making HSE work.

It's probably of no surprise to find, then, that the Risk Tool Box is at the forefront in developing safe systems of work for the unconventional hydrocarbons sector.

For the last five years we've been working in promoting safety in the biggest unconventional oilfield in the USA - the Bakken - in North Dakota.

At the same time, we've also been involved in the Surat basin around Roma in Queensland which has quickly established itself as the centre of unconventional gas production in Australia.

If you're on the look-out for unconventional ways to get your safety program rolled-out, or just sick of the same old ho-hum safety nonesense, it might just be time for you to act in an unconventional manner. Feel free to give me a call:  + 61 (0) 408 472 678.

Safe Oil Field Flowback Operations

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, December 07, 2011

"Flowback" is the phase in oilfield well development in which fluids and injected gases are recovered from the drill hole and brought to the surface for environmental management purposes.
The flowback process aims to safely recover these substances from the well prior to the next phase of well development when hydrocarbons begin to be produced for commercial purposes.

In order to conduct a flowback operation safely, it is important to understand what is occurring down hole.  I'll provide a brief description below.
Once the well is drilled - often to several thousands of feet in depth, steel pipe which is screwed together is run all the way from the top to the bottom of the hole.

The steel piping is then cemented in place. You'll often hear about a "cement job" to describe this process.

The steel pipe and reinforcing cement prevent oil, gas, and formation water from entering the drilled hole from the rock formations in the ground.

We do, however, want to get to the hydrocarbons in the formation reservoir (oil or gas bearing rocks) and to achieve this objective, a perforating gun is lowered into the drilled hole.

The perforating gun is lowered to the depth where the oil or gas reservoir is found. 

Once the perforation gun is aligned within the formation zone containing the hydrocarbons, a powerful explosive charge is released through the perforation gun. 

A number of exactly pre-specified small perforations (holes) are "drilled" through the steel casing and cement by the explosive charge.

These small perforations are designed to extend several meters into the oil or gas bearing formation rock. 

To enhance the flow of hydrocarbons, however, it is sometimes necessary to perform further hydraulic fracturing of the formation rocks. 

The fracking process enhances flow of the well by linking together pre-existing fractures in the formation rock and opening them up slightly.

The man-made fractures begin from the well and extend into the formation rocks for many hundreds of meters.

The hydraulic fracture is formed when fluid (water bearing high viscosity additives) is pumped at high hydraulic pressure down the well for short periods.

This high pressure fluid is what "fracks" the reservoir rock.

Once the well is fracked open,  ceramic and natural silica sand (same as you find at the beach but more pure silica) is pumped into the fractures to keep them open when the hydraulic pressure is removed.

Once completed, the injected water, recoverable sand or other injected gases are recovered back through the man-made fracture to the well and flowback up to the surface. 

For that reason, the recovery of these fluids is called "flowback".

Once the well is perforated, fracking is done, and the flowback process is completed, the recoverable hydrocarbons are able to flow into the perforations in the well and up the well to the surface.

We then all get the benefits of fuel for transport, power to heat and light our homes, and the numerous other purposes to which our society puts hydrocarbons.

Oppose a moratorium on Coal Seam Gas

Graham Marshall - Saturday, November 26, 2011

The folks over at the Conservation Council of WA have called for a moratorium on coal seam gas (CSG) exploration and development in WA.  For a number of reasons, we at the Risk Tool Box oppose any moratorium, and we explain why this is so below.

First up, some facts....

+   Coal seam gas (CSG) is a form of natural gas found in underground coal (and coal baring shale) deposits.

+    It is an energy source and consists mainly of methane.  In fact, it is sometimes called coal-bed methane.

+   CSG is a odourless and colourless and it is used like other forms of natural gas in domestic homes to power heaters, stoves and hot water systems.

+    CSG is also used as a fuel for electricity generation.

Where does CSG come from?

Coal seam gas is recovered by drilling a gas well into the coal seam and fracturing it with high-pressure water and sand.  This is the so-called "fracking" which has the greenies up in arms. 

Gas wells are typically drilled to depths of many thousands of feet below the surface.

A by-product of the drilling and gas recovery process is water which is pumped out of the gas well alongside the gas.  The water is usually potable and can have many useful purposes (e.g., irrigation of tress in arid inland areas of Australia).

What are the benefits of CSG?

One of the biggest benefits of CSG exploration and production activities is that they have a relatively small environmental footprint.

A coal seam gas field involves a network of gas production wells.  The completed wells exist on a pad which takes up a very small area. 

The well pads are then connected to a buried pipeline system that transports the gas and produced water to a central processing facility before sending it on to the domestic of power-generation market.

Disturbance of the natural environment is limited to construction of access tracks, small well sites, buried gas reticulation pipelines, and water management systems.

Another benefit of CSG is that it is a clean and long-sustainable energy source compared to other fuel sources (e.g., coal, wood, peat, oil, animal dung).

CSG also burns much more efficiently than coal or oil (or cow dung) and it generates approximately 40 per cent less greenhouse gases than conventional coal-fired electricity generation.

The methane gas produced from CSG wells is clean burning and results in virtually no atmospheric emissions of sulphur dioxide or particulate matter and generates virtually no solid waste.

With society’s environmental focus shifting and climate change becoming a concern to some sections of society, the advantages of gas over other fuels is obvious (unless you're an idiot!).

WA and other parts of Australia stand to benefit enormously from the exploration and production of CSG, and for that reason, we at the Risk Tool Box oppose any attempts by greeny luddites to hold back this sustainable energy source.

So, is there a downside to CSG?

The main problem with CSG is that it involves bringing a lot of water from deep down in the earth's crust up to the surface.  Deciding what to do with the water by-product is the main problem with CSG.  The water itself is not a problem in terms of toxicity or draw-down on aquifers affecting drinking water as these are found at much shallower depths that CSG coal deposits (often below 10,000 feet down).

Contrary to the popular press, CSG extraction also does not cause earthquakes, the cows won't die, and the farmers won't all starve either.  The drinking water coming out of your tap will also not be affected by CSG extraction.


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