3 Hot Topics in Oil & Gas to Explore at SPF Houston

March 21, 2017

The Australian edition of our concluded last month in Melbourne, and our next SPF event is on April 4, 2017, in Houston, Texas. We host two global SPF events (SPF Americas and SPF EMEA), and three regional ones (SPF Melbourne, SPF Houston, and SPF Calgary).

is our largest regional event and one of the most important EHS conferences in the American South & Southwest, with a prominent focus on the oil & gas industry, which has deep roots in the region. If you’re in the oil & gas industry and considering attending SPF Houston, here’s a preview of some of the topics that will be explored.

1) A Shifting Regulatory Landscape Highlights the Need for Greater Agility

President Obama had made climate change one of his main areas of focus. Executive orders and rulemaking by the EPA and other agencies created new regulatory requirements for the oil & gas industry. However President Trump and Congress wish to scale back environmental regulations and other types of regulations also. For example, the EPA withdrew a request that owners and operators in the oil and natural gas industry provide information on equipment and emissions at existing oil and gas operations. In addition, Congress is considering rolling back the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) new methane rule (The House already voted to nullify the rule while the Senate still needs to decide).

But what happens if a new administration completely reverses course again in four or eight years? What if, while there are fewer federal regulations, more state regulations are enacted (e.g. from California)? What about regulations that remain in effect? And what happens if pressure from other stakeholders increases just as pressure from Federal regulations is decreasing? When it comes to the regulatory landscape, change is inevitable. Regulations will be enacted, reversed, amended, scaled back, or expanded over time. Through operational excellence and greater agility, the oil & gas industry can be better prepared to face shifts in regulatory requirements and demands from stakeholders in a cost-effective and in the least disruptive way.

2) Aging Assets and Workforces Highlight Change Management

Any type of change, whether a change in people, processes, equipment or products, introduces an element of risk. For the oil & gas industry, this is amplified by aging assets that require repairs, upgrades or replacements, and an aging workforce that may see a wave of retirements. All of this is on top of cost-cutting measures that accompanied the drop in oil prices in 2014 and 2015, and which resulted in the loss of personnel with valuable knowledge or delayed equipment upgrades that might now take place. Change is constant, but in the oil & gas industry, change is not only constant, it’s been turbo-charged.

The ability to constantly manage change becomes critical in this type of operating environment. Companies need a global view on all change requests, as well as changes that they do not control (e.g. equipment breakdown forcing a replacement, employee turnovers). Operational risks resulting from these changes need to be identified, and properly assessed and mitigated.

3) Technological Innovation is Disrupting the Industry

What is more challenging than an operating environment where equipment and people change? Answer: An operating environment also characterized by a changing technological landscape. As oil & gas companies face pressures to increase operational efficiency, a change in strategy has become essential in order to take their operations to the next level. That change in strategy implies an adoption and implementation of , such as , sensors and beacons, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), wearables, etc.

For example, emissions sensors that record real time environmental data, smart meters to monitor real time utility data, beacons designed to provide context awareness safety, and equipment hardware capable of triggering alerts in case of failure, are already fully integrated in day-to-day operations. In addition, wearable technology, such as connected gloves, glasses, helmets and other pieces of personnel protective equipment, enhance the safety of employees and contractors. Oil & gas firms need to learn how to leverage new innovative technologies that can improve operational efficiency.

These three hot topics, and much more, will be discussed at SPF Houston. Register today and book your spot to make sure that you join leaders in the oil & gas industry and contribute to the discussions.

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