Oil, gas installations to come under safety directorate

Oil Industry Safety Direc­torate (OISD) will take ch­arge of all oil and gas inst­allations’ safety and secur­ity. The OISD would be gi­ven statutory powers to dr­aw up norms on par with global standards for securi­ng the energy assets.

Currently, OISD is a tec­hnical directorate under petroleum ministry. It for­mulates and coordinates implementation of self-reg­ulatory measures to enhan­ce safety in the industry.

Petroleum ministry Mu­rli Deora is likely to pilot a bill in Lok Sabha during the budget session to provide statutory powers to OISD. Meanwhile, Deora may also seek Parliament’s approval for amendments to PNGRB Act of 2006.

So far, technical standa­rds for the oil and gas in­dustry are to be formulated by oil regulator Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulat­ory Board (PNGRB). But, OISD has already underta­ken process of developing technical safety standards for the entire oil and gas in­dustry. Till now, OISD has developed 111 safety standards.

“There is a requirement for amendment of the PN­GRB Act and give statutory status to OISD,” said a pet­roleum ministry official, re­questing anonymity. Gover­nment plans to extend OI­SD coverage to entire oil and gas industry. The oil ministry has asked all com­panies in hydrocarbons se­ctor to set up mechanism for safety procedures. It is important to revise and up­grade the safety facilities fr­om time to time, ministry told oil companies in July this year.

“OISD is dealing with developing safety standards since 1986. The proposal is there (to make OISD a statutory status),” said L N Gupta, joint secretary at oil ministry. However, final decision is yet to be taken, Gupta added.

OISD will carry out ext­ernal safety audit of refin­eries, gas processing plants, marketing installations, cr­oss-country pipelines, expl­oration and production op­erations in both offshore and onshore sedimentary area. This is in addition to mark safety norms and re­vising them frequently.

In order to make OISD a statutory body, a cabinet note is being drafted and circulated among all conc­erned ministries and depa­rtments. Thereafter the Pa­rliament has to approve it, PNGRB chairman L Mans­ingh told Financial Chroni­cle. “It is a long procedure and may take some time,” Mansingh added.

In addition, oil secretary and chairman of safety council, S Sundershan, has opined that safety awards should be presented only in cases of exceptional safety performance. Oil industry safety awards were ins­tituted in 1987 with a view to promote safety per­formance in oil industry. OISD evaluates the safety performance of oil and gas industry members every year and the best pe­rformers are awarded.

Meeting global safety norms by oil and gas installations has become need of the hour. Last year, a major fire broke out at IOC depot in Jaipur killing 12 people. An investigation committee headed by former HPCL chairman M B Lal found lack of safety procedures and design flaws causing the accident.

BG Exploration and Production India, part of UK-based BG group, stopped drilling from Panna-Mukta fields in August this year after leakage from a hose. The production was shut for more than a month affecting 35,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd) and 205 million standard cubic feet (mscf) of gas per day.

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