Great attention has been paid to the tremendous shale gas boom occurring in the United States, and rightly so. According to a report by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), this year the U.S. will surpass both Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the world’s largest producer of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons.
The rapidly changing landscape of worldwide energy production and consumption will impact lives in ways we can barely even imagine today, from national and international geopolitics to the prices at your local grocery store. However, one issue in particular has arisen over the harvesting of natural gas products through the process of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”
Although this process has existed since the 1940’s, its current iteration has since assumed the responsibility for giving oil & gas firms access to the incredible reserves of previously inaccessible energy. As such, it is one key to the evolution and success of the industry.
However, this significant opportunity does not exist without consequences. The negative impacts of fracking, documented in such films as Gasland 1 and 2 and by organizations like Food & Water Watch, are real and could affect communities all across America. Nevertheless, these risks and, indeed, the risks of any heavy industrial activity are a function of the process/quality control and risk management measures taken by the organization. When proper protocols are followed, documented, and rigorously applied, we drastically lessen the probabilities of accidents, danger, and irreversible damage.
Industry standards, like API Spec Q2, were developed for just this reason. Using rigorous preventative maintenance, document control, risk management, and other key QHSE components can create an organizational culture that emphasizes proactivity and prevention, rather than reaction and crisis management.
Ultimately, taking calculated risks and implementing the proper controls can allow us to reap the benefits of this tremendous economic opportunity while also ensuring the health and safety of our communities.
Let us know on Twitter how your organization navigates risk and opportunity, and contact us directly to see how we can help.