The risk of Drilling in the oil and gas industry
Working on a drilling platform far from shore is often dull and routine until something goes wrong. Being isolated at sea during a blowout is a horrific scenario, add fire and you have the disaster witnessed on Deepwater Horizon. Even without fire, a seafloor leak of gas can destabilize the rig as the buoyant properties of the water changes. When wells blowout on land the crew and support personnel can evacuate to a prescribed location to take stock of the situation. Emergency responders are able to rally quickly to a land-based emergency. While land blowouts can still be life-threatening the dangers at sea are multiplied.
Many old rig-hands lost fingers and toes either throwing a chain around the pipe while making a connection, mashing digits while racking pipe, engaging tongs, slips, and falls. Common injuries occur just because of bad body position. Fire from leaks, faulty equipment, and smoking has claimed its share of workers. The size and weight of materials needed to drill wells cannot be imagined by people who have never witnessed a well being drilled. What is apparent is that even with strict safety guidelines, a human is very fragile in the shadow of so much heavy iron.
The risk in Production of oil and gas industry
Often gas wells tap into overpressured reservoirs. There are documented cases where the formation is so poorly cemented it flows along with the gas and acts like a sandblaster that cuts out chokes and orifices. An Atlantic Richfield well tender was killed when opening a well as the valve came off the wellhead and went through him like a cannonball.
Risk In Geology & Geophysics in the oil and gas industry
some people worked with explosives while performing test hole VSPs (vertical seismic profile). Fortunately, they had a spotless safety record. The physical danger is not what plagues the exploration geologist, it is the nagging fear that the venture will fail. A prospect has three points of evolution.
Conceptualization of where hydrocarbons should be located based on proximity to production, projections, and research. Confirmation of structure, reservoir, and source rock through additional geophysical surveys.
From a pool of prospects, some are green-lit to be drilled, while others are rated and placed in inventory.
Mapping and quantifying the target still requires a test well to prove if hydrocarbons exist in commercial quantities. Often they do not. Even after the well is approved there are problems that can interfere with drilling.
Inability to secure a mineral lease or sufficient acreage to make the prospect worthwhile. Access and permission to drill can be denied by municipalities, state authorities, or in some cases the Federal Government. After a well has successfully found hydrocarbons getting them out if the ground requires an investment equal to and often greater than the drilling to complete the well.
At the operating level, there is the inescapable fact that the industry deals with highly combustible, often high-pressure and high-temperature fluids, and often in hostile environments. Do it safely involves lots of technology and high-precision, very heavy equipment that must work as expected every time.
There is the geologic risk of drilling a well. Oddly, this is one of the more manageable risks. Operators and investors assume price risk. Since oil and gas are freely-traded commodities, events around the world can affect the value of a portfolio, totally outside the owner’s control. Especially in the international arena, operators assume the political risk. Changes in government or changes in the wind direction can vastly affect a company’s fortunes. In some country, we may have a government which runs hot and cold on oil and gas; they love to hate us, but they sure like the benefits of a strong oil and gas industry. So regulatory risk is a thing.
Oil and gas industry is highly regulated and monitored. people used to work for a reputable service company. They recognized as the greatest risk in their activity being DRIVING. More casualties we had on the road than at the well site. Sound silly but this is the truth. The flight was preferred when more than 5 hours of drive were required. Arrangements were made to have vehicles at the airport ready for us to drive to the well site. A lot of arrangements just to minimize driving time on public roads. Even with these measures, we still had more recordable events on the road than at work at the well site. Well site was indeed as safe as any construction site. Typical risks there were related to trip hazards, pinch points, etc. In other segments of the industry, we run in other hazards related to pressure, electricity, H2S gas, and many others. All of them are subject to intensive training and operators spend a tremendous amount of resources toward the safety of the people and the environment. The safety issue is so important that an operator can lose the work over a safety violation. Comparing with other industries, the Oil and Gas industry is safer.
Too many, heavy equipment and strong stress on them, hydrogen sulfide presence, explosives, high pressure, radioactive stuff, reckless or tired people handling operations were the unexpected should always be expected. The most terrifying is certainly the blow out was well head pressure control equipment failed for some reason, in most of cases the hydrocarbon ignites and a specialist should be called for recovering well control, they will diagnose the factibility of the job and the operation cost will overdue the standard well cost.
the worst risk taken was driving back home after a stressing job (tired but willing to rest on my own bed).