February 3, 2010








            Verma, Johnson and McLean (2000) conducted a study about the benzene and total hydrocarbon exposures in the upstream petroleum oil and gas industry and found several safety concern issues. The study was based on the Canadian Oil and Gas Industry, and a total of 1547 air samples taken by 5 oil companies in various sectors (i.e., conventional oil/gas, conventional gas, heavy oil processing, drilling and pipelines) were evaluated and summarized. Although the study was not focused in the oil and gas industry in Saudi Arabia, it still provided results that can be generalized for the whole oil and gas industry around the world. For instance, it found the percentage of samples are over the occupational exposure limit (OEL) of 3.2 mg/m3 or one part per million for benzene, for personal long-term samples ranges from 0 to 0.7% in the different sectors, and area long-term samples range from 0 to 13%. On the other hand, for short-term personal samples, the exceedance for benzene is at 5% with respect to the OEL of 16 mg/m3 or five parts per million in the conventional gas sector and none in the remaining sectors. The findings help establish a precaution to the global oil and gas industry that certain operations such as glycol dehydrators be carefully monitored and that a task-based monitoring program be included along with the traditional long- and short-term personal exposure sampling.


            Another study that reflects the safety procedures in the oil and gas industry in general is the study conducted by Fuller and Vassie (2001), which reports a benchmark assessment of employee and contractor safety climates in an offshore oil company that operated contractor partnership agreements in the North Sea. Questionnaires were used in the study to assess safety climates in terms of employees' and contractors' perceptions of safety management, workplace conditions and safety concerns. The results showed that safety climates could be aligned in organizations that operate partnership agreements within a recognized health and safety management system. Fuller and Vassie (2001) suggested that the approach presented is appropriate for benchmarking safety climates before and after partnership arrangements have been established in order to determine the level of cultural alignment that has been achieved.


            Markussen (2003) enumerated several effects on employee health that a geological survey/seismic operation can produce. Employees are endangered of infectious disease; foodborne/waterborne illness; wildlife & vector; induced disease; and noise. On the other hand, oil and gas production causes chemical and physical agent exposure, specifically on drilling mud; petroleum products; treatment chemicals; radioactive sources; NORM*; solvents; metals; temperature (heat/cold); silica/asbestos; noise/vibration; and PCB's. Markussen (2003) concluded that all risks must be identified and managed through wisely incorporated resources in order for quality operations to be long lasting.




            Al Khafji Joint Operations is one of the known oil and gas companies in Saudi Arabia. In the Annual Safety Report 2005 of Al Khafji Joint Operations (2006), the company made some improvements such as the Inspection Equipment Program, Project Monitoring, and Modification of Permit to Work System. There was also a company-wide safety campaign program, updating of emergency response team and plan, evacuation drills and safety and fire training.


            The company has medical services ready in case of emergency. The medical facility of KJO is equipped with modern technologies and trained nurses and doctors (KJO, 2006). The company also has a program for employees that empower them to share their views and opinions on health and safety issues in the company.  


            KJO also takes importance in monitoring and preventing oil spills. The following are the "spill readiness" strategy of KJO: ensure that company response to oil spills is prompt, efficient and cost-effective; ensure company readiness and response to oil spills through training courses and drills; monitor, evaluate and advise on national and international oil spill legislation; assure the continual development and update of oil spill contingency plans; to analyze the environmental impacts during an oil spill and to advise on the most suitable response option to be applied; and perform routine (and during oil spills) inspection duties in the offshore area and the beach areas. The company also implements a waste management plan on spills, as well as initiatives on preventing air and water pollution (KJO, 2006).


            Another oil and gas company in Saudi Arabia that takes importance on safety and health issues is the Saudi Aramco. For instance, the company's health plans for its employees come in three folds: primary prevention; secondary prevention; and tertiary prevention. Primary prevention involves food and water sanitation, immunization against communicable diseases, and water fluoridation. Secondary prevention involves screening programs, such as neonatal examinations for congenital hip dislocation, periodic mammography, glaucoma, blood pressure screening, etc. Also, occupational screening programs are performed, which include hearing conservation (audiometric testing), pulmonary protection (asbestos, silica mitigation), and radiation protection. Finally, tertiary prevention involves minimizing the complications of disease or injury (Saudi Arabian Oil Company, 2006).


            In terms of waste management, Saudi Aramco has constructed several industrial waste treatment plants, which include separators to treat oily water, landfarms to treat oily sludge, dedicated asbestos disposal areas, and on-site oxidation of pyrophoric waste (Saudi Arabian Oil Company, 2006). The company also invests on recyling and contingency plans to prevent oil spills. Also, like KJO, Saudi Aramco takes importance on the air and water conditions in its vicinity. Air and water pollution plans are also being implemented to ensure that employees are free from the dangers that be brought by such pollutions.



Al Khafji Joint Operations (2006). Online, Available at: http://www.kjo.com.sa  [Accessed: 03/29/07].


 Fuller, C.W. and Vassie, L.H. (2001). Benchmarking the safety climates of employees and contractors working within a partnership arrangement: A case study in the offshore oil industry. Benchmarking: An International Journal, Vol.8, No.5; pp.413-430.


Markussen, R.W. (2003). Occupational and Public Health Issues in the Oil and Gas Industry: Emerging Trends and Needs for Emphasis (online). Available at: http://www.touchbriefings.com/pdf/25/westmark.pdf [Accessed: 03/10/06].


Saudi Aramco (2006). Online, Available at: http://www.saudiaramco.com [Accessed: 03/29/06].


Verma, D.A., Johnson, D.M. and McLean, J.D. (2000). Benzene and total hydrocarbon exposures in the upstream petroleum oil and gas industry. AIHAJ, Vol.61, No.2; pp.255-63.


1 comment:

Harry said...

In the wake of the North American oil disaster and more recently the Chilean mine rescue, the spot light of health and safety amongst these industries and regions has been rightly increased. Health and Safety Software is often used to simulate situations as well as provide onsite instructions and pointers on the best practice in certain environments.

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