The oil and gas industry in Egypt pays a great deal of attention to the reinforcement of HSE standards, and thus the industry is taking clear steps to solidify these standards. EOG conducted an interview with Colby Fuser, EOG HSE Subcommittee Chairman and Halliburton’s Vice President.

EOG launched its HSE Subcommittee in August. From your point of view, to what extent will the committee help raise the level of awareness about HSE among the sector’s workers?

We are in the beginning phase of the committee, and we are already seeing some good impact. The committee is focused on two key factors that we feel will have long-term benefit to the Egyptian market and in particular among the workers at the frontline. First is awareness being raised around the leading indicators and how we can work with the trends that we see happening in the area across all companies; and the second is education of the nine lifesaving rules in both English and Arabic. We feel that a single unified approach with a consistent message and standards is key to changing the behaviors that we see are getting people hurt at the wellsite and in our shops. We see that leadership engagement and leading by example is a key factor that we will have to have to make this impact. The committee is very motivated and we have the support of the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) and the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources.

What are the committee’s activities for the coming period?

Our first priority is raising awareness around the HSE week, where we are working with our CSR committee, focusing on young professionals coming into the work place and sharing the importance of HSE in the home and work environments. This event will be from November 17-21.

The same awareness which we are making with the young professionals will be rolled out in Arabic and English to all workers, contractors, and sub-contractors on December 1.

What is the committee’s plan to provide firm recommendations for actions that have an immediate positive impact on creating safer practices within the sector?

The committee is dedicated to contractor management and how to ensure that we have the right implementation. This was rolled out from the EGPC in February 2019, and we will be working with them to ensure the implementation is executed through audits, where our focus will be on the selection of the contractor to the monitoring of the performance. It is important that unsafe companies who do not see improvement are restricted from working in our sector.

Other activities are centered on a centralizing system to capture all leading and lagging indicators for all companies under the oil and gas umbrella in Egypt. This is a dashboard where information is shared and given visibility to all leaders, so we can ensure the right safety campaigns are launched to prevent incidents from happening. There has been some good progress made around this effort from the EGPC, and we are excited about being a part of the journey to ZERO in the future.

How is the subcommittee’s vision and objectives aligned with the ministry’s Modernization Project?

We are working hand-in-hand with the EGPC and focused on changing the safety behaviors around process and personal safety. Our passion is to ensure that we push improvement across the upstream, midstream, and downstream businesses within the sector. Our vision is not to add or introduce anything new but to support the implementation of the actions and vision of the ministry.

As part of the Modernization Project, the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources launched a program to train 74 engineers and chemists from HSE departments. Do you believe having such programs can help enhance HSE standards and workers’ abilities in the oil and gas sector? If so, how?

We feel that having expertise in the HSE field, with individuals who have a passion and a drive will lead us to success in the Egypt energy sector. HSE is about how we arrive to work, how we work, and how we return home safely; and it is a part of everyone’s responsibility. How we see this working is through passionate and professional HSE leaders, who have the skillset, driving the organizations to the right path in the journey to ZERO. We feel that, as professionals in this role, they will have the ability to comprehend the leading indicators and apply the right campaigns so that we are preventing incidents from happening.

Why do you think it is important for the youth to grasp HSE practices from an early age? And how can this be beneficial later on to the sector as a whole?

When we learn at an early age the importance of safety, it then becomes a behavior; and when the majority of the population acts safely, we will see a change in the culture. Our focus with the awareness campaigns in the universities is to prepare young professionals for when they start working in the oil and gas sector and become leaders in change management. We all know the youth of today has a voice, and this is what we are counting on. We want them to be the voice of STOP; and when they see something not being done correctly to stop the work and raise awareness.

In your opinion, should such trainings be enforced in the entire sector? Furthermore, how can they become accessible to everyone?

Across the entire committee, we see the need to have enforcement for HSE. The committee agrees that when people do not comply with the safety standards and work safely, then they should not be working in our industry. HSE is everyone’s responsibility, and we need every person to demonstrate his or her knowledge and to execute a safe working environment and job execution. The key to this is a robust competency program and continuous education about HSE.

Do you think HSE standards are directly related to the technologies that are being used in the sector?

We have engineering controls across all parts of our business and lives. For example, a safety shield is an engineering control that is designed to keep workers out of harm’s way. For other technology, we see well control equipment designed to prevent hydrocarbons from surfacing with fast and precise control. We also see new technology in way of environmentally friendly chemicals. We also see technology in the new work methods and processes subjected to risk assessments and applying the proper controls, mitigating HSE incidents during the jobs.

From your point of view, to what extent would improving HSE within the oil and gas sector play a role in turning Egypt into a regional energy hub?

We are committed to a safe environment and I feel very confident that my peers also feel this way. I have seen firsthand at Halliburton that a safe environment is also an efficient environment where service quality of the jobs being performed are improved and the overall job efficiency reaches a much higher standard. As Egypt expands its leadership in North Africa, HSE is the critical component, playing a large part in the industry. The HSE journey to ZERO is best delivered with a competent workforce whose leadership has commitment to a safe working environment. I want to thank the entire EOG Technical committee and our HSE committee for their dedication and passion to make Egypt a safe place to work.