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Shell safety chief urges industry not to get bogged down in KPIs

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Written by Mark Lammey – 14/09/2016 7:22 am

The oil and gas industry is in danger of getting bogged down in key performance indicators (KPIs), a safety chief from Shell said yesterday.

Norbert van Beelen, Shell’s vice president of wells safety and environment, said that while it was important to measure performance, companies were wasting time gathering superfluous metrics.

He said: “We need to manage it because KPI is becoming an industry on its own.

“Certain metrics are needed so we understand where we are going, but there needs to be a purpose. We need to be deliberate about what we are choosing.

“We are not going to get away from it (KPIs) but we really need to manage the amount of work and effort we are putting into getting these numbers.

“As an industry we are spending far too much time on it.”

Mr van Beelen was speaking at an event organised by Shell to share information about advances in North Sea well process safety.

Delivering the keynote speech at Woodbank House, Aberdeen, he said workers had to understand their roles and have the right level of competence to fulfil them.

He said everyone should think of themselves as a “barrier” for preventing mishaps that can have catastrophic consequences.

Citing a personal example, Mr van Beelen told delegates about a time when he fell short during the testing of a well’s commercial viability, causing the temporary failure of a safety process.

“Luckily,” he said, the lapse only led to a small brine spill.

“If one person does not do the job properly, the barrier fails,” he said.

Mr van Beelen also said ensuring safety had to be a collective effort between operators, drilling contractors and service companies − and that the process needs to start in an office onshore, not on a rig.

He said one of the biggest hurdles to achieving a fully integrated approach was the difficulty companies have in understanding their project partners’ competence levels.

He did say some companies were already looking beyond their own duties and were asking questions about their partners’ responsibilities, but that there was still a “long way to go” in this regard.

Mr van Beelen added: “Well safety failures in our industry are few and far between, but when they do occur they are catastrophic.

“If there is anything we can do to make the workplace safer, I think we should always invest the time. That’s why it’s important for us to work together on process safety.”

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1 Comment on “Shell safety chief urges industry not to get bogged down in KPIs”

  1. #1 Bill Campbell
    on Sep 18th, 2016 at 16:15

    Safety KPIs (re various comments on your website)
    It is interesting that during the utter collapse of safety standards on the Brent field (TFA et al) they were able to demonstrate ‘improvement’ in safety by the misuse of the worst kPI known to man, that is lost time incident frequency.

    I am reminded of the world of Deepwater Horizon prior to the incident. Transoceanic staff were patting each other on the back at the time of the explosion for their sustained good performance re safety represented by the metrics of this KPI. This despite the installation being flooded with gas on several occasions in the months prior to the incident, the fact that the medieval gas sensing system did not and could not take executive action, that the drill crew had never trained for a blowout type incident despite the previous drill kicks, and when it happened on the fateful day rather than maintaining well flow via the appropriate surge diverted sent it fatally to the mud treatment skid. Also that just before all hell broke loose that during the back flowing of the well and displacing the mud with water no one was monitoring the mud returns, a cardinal sin in the Drillers 101 course.

    Here was an installation of inadequate design where none of the learnings from Piper A were ever considered worth incorporating but Transocean sold this installation and its own ‘world class services’ on the basis of a discredited KPI which if honestly recorded measures occupational risk levels at the shop floor at best but says nothing at all about the societal risks of all those persons living on the installation due to its intrinsic design shortcomings of the vessel and the incompetence of its crews, their supervisors and onshore management

    Bill Campbell

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