OTC: Safety, Security Weighs In

Wednesday, May 6, 2015 @ 09:05 AM gHale

By Gregory Hale
While everyone is trudging through the down oil and gas market, safety and security remains top of mind in every aspect of the industry.

Products or services, solutions or programs, safety and security entered into every conversation at the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston this week.

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Security also remains a hot topic in oil and gas. Mroz talked about the security program they call Secure Plant they have working with Shell and Cisco.

“Other (users) are asking us what they should be doing (in security),” said Chet Mroz, chief executive of Yokogawa North America. “They want to do assessments.”

“In terms of safety everyone is talking about the safety lifecycle and we see that as a services program, Mroz said. “There is such a diversity of systems and users are asking us if we have a generalist to go out there so they can make an assessment on if they should get a specialist.

With baby boomers leaving and fewer younger engineers coming in, it sure helps to have more automation to replace empty seats, but it also helps to standardize and make sure everyone has training and understands standard operating procedures, he said.

While one of the issues facing manufacturers is all about achieving and then sustaining safety, Mario Azar, president of Siemens Oil and Gas and Marine global business unit, doesn’t see safety complacency being an issue.

“People are achieving safety and they appear to be sustaining it; we don’t see complacency in oil and gas,” Azar said.

Having the right technology remains key, but so too is using it to garner the most out of it.

“Trusting technology is important with something so precious,” Azar said. “There is a lot at stake.”

One Safety Solution
Along the lines of technology, United Electric Controls (UE) talked about their offshore safety, alarm and shutdown protection solutions like their One Series Safety Transmitter, a SIL 2-certified hybrid transmitter-switch designed for safety system applications. The One Series allows safety teams a simple setup.

The new One Series Safety Transmitter can monitor temperature and pressure and integrates a safety logic solver and high speed relay.

“It takes away the human aspect of safety,” said Wil Chin, vice president of marketing and business development at United Electric Controls. “If you really look at it, humans make the most mistakes.”

The new transmitter doesn’t use the HART protocol, Chin said, because the technology is open and connects to the enterprise. If someone gets in through the enterprise there could be a problem. IEC 61511 said it is not a safety application.

That ends up being a security issue.

“The key threat is cyber security,” said Scott Pierce, director of functional safety technologies at United Electric.

“Threats can be anonymous,” said Channing Reis, director of functional safety technologies at United Electric. “Unintended configuration change. If someone wanted to launch a nefarious attack, this (technology) can help.”

In this cost conscious environment where every penny counts, companies are saying, “we have to be safe, but we have to be competitive,” Pierce said.

“We have to simplify our safety systems. There are users out there that say ‘we have 40 valves tied into the safety PLC and I can’t test all of them,’” Chin said. “This way it is possible to tie them all into one,” he said. Instead of pushing all new systems on users, in these down times, they have to start getting smart about what they use and not end up caught up in the hype.

“A DCS is cool and all that, but when something does go wrong, it is difficult to find out what went wrong.” This can help find the answers.

Reliability Means Safety

In this market, with capital projects drying up, reliability and efficiency can become a safety component to producers.

“Reliability is more important than anything else,” said Robert DiStefano, vice president and general manager for reliability consulting at Emerson Process Management.

Those companies that have a solid reliability program reap benefits including:
• Not suffering downtime and an increase in profitability
• Spending less money of maintenance
• Increase in safety. Incidents go down when reliability goes up.

When it comes to safety and security in this down market, Luis Gamboa, Global Business Development Manager for Oil and Gas in Rockwell Automation said there is some spending going on.

“If a manufacturer is not in compliance then they are forced to do something, then they will spend,” he said. “As long as things are in compliance and are maintained, then they won’t touch it. If a system is obsolete, they we will try to help them overcome and we will help manage the transition.”

There is also a trend to use more standardized safety equipment subsea. Companies have proprietary systems that end up costing more money to upgrade and maintain – and they don’t meet current standards.

“It is hard to meet the standards with specialized equipment,” said Pete Skipp, Engineering Manager, Applied Technology at Rockwell Automation. “Companies are instead using more commercial equipment. Costs have gotten so high, it is better to standardize.”

Along those lines, Rockwell introduced its OptiSIS solution, which is a pre-engineered safety instrumented system.

The OptiSIS solution is for aging process-safety systems that are either noncompliant or can no longer end up maintained.

OptiSIS is for safety instrumented system applications of 50 or 100 I/O points, including emergency shutdown (ESD) systems, burner-management systems (BMS) and high-integrity pressure protection systems (HIPPS).

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