Our goal is to eliminate all injuries, occupational illnesses, unsafe practices and incidents of environmental harm from our activities. We believe that our work is never so urgent or important that we cannot take the time to do it safely and in an environmentally responsible manner. Our SPIRIT Values - Safety, People, Integrity, Responsibility, Innovation and Teamwork – inspire all our actions and confirm that safety is core to how we operate.
For example, in the South Texas counties that comprise the vast Eagle Ford shale play, we promote a safety culture through comprehensive employee training and collaboration with local emergency planning officials and first responders. “It’s all about leadership, communication and preparation,” says Kurt Paton, our Health, Safety and Environment supervisor for the region.
Our employees and contractors participate in “tailgate” job site safety meetings that are designed to identify and mitigate hazards associated with their roles. Tools employed to help analyze the safety of each operation and procedures to follow include quick-reference cards based around our Life Saving Rules. “Stop-the-job” authority is a critical safety component, and all personnel have both the right and responsibility to stop any operation, without personal reproach, if they feel the task, operation or current process at hand is unsafe.
We prepare detailed emergency response plans that specify steps to take depending upon the type of emergency and list the names and phone numbers of personnel and contractors to call. Municipal representatives, including local police and volunteer firefighters, join in mock drills simulating conditions requiring an emergency response. ConocoPhillips also has a highly trained emergency response team ready to respond to incidents wherever we operate around the world.
Oil and natural gas exploration and development occurs where the reserves are located and sometimes that is near urban hubs. For example, the Barnett shale play extends to both urban and rural settings in the Greater Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, area. We are working with home and property owners, ranchers and farmers, as well as local city and county governmental authorities, to ensure that our operations meet or exceed regulatory requirements, honor the terms of contracts and incorporate applicable industry standards and guidelines. Our field operations personnel use noise-abatement walls and other sound-control measures on our facilities and also assess and mitigate visual impacts. In some cases, that means using low-profile storage tanks and installing them several feet below grade to meet height standards. Our facilities are carefully planned and designed to achieve high efficiency and safety.
Offshore Safety and Response
Offshore, we implement systems that allow us to operate, monitor and maintain the stability of a platform remotely from anywhere in the world, while focusing on technologies that enable us to optimize production and operate safely. Prevention of spills or other safety incidents, through appropriate project planning, design, implementation and leadership, is of primary importance to us. Yet, if and when these incidents occur, quick and effective response is paramount.
In July 2010, ConocoPhillips along with ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell founded the Marine Well Containment Company (MWCC), an independent company that provides well containment equipment and technology in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. MWCC’s interim containment system first became available for use in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico in February 2011.
The interim containment system, which can handle pressure up to 15,000 psi, meets the needs of all member company wells currently being drilled in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. The system has the capacity to contain 60,000 barrels per day (and 120 million standard cubic feet per day) with potential for expansion. Through the mutual assistance of MWCC members, the interim containment system includes capture vessels for surface processing and storage.
Our company’s focus and investments in offshore safety and environmental protection are best summarized in three primary areas:
- Prevention – To reduce the risk of an incident from occurring.
- Containment – To reduce the footprint and impact of an incident and maximize the response capability.
- Response – To mitigate incident damage rapidly and effectively.
We place great value on having trained and capable emergency responders. As part of our emergency preparedness program, we conduct regular, major response exercises. Several recent drills included the ConocoPhillips Global Incident Management Assist Team (GIMAT).
In March 2013, 120 employees from across the company participated in a GIMAT training event in Southampton, U.K. Five days of training stressed integration and consistency through the Incident Command System. Participants put their learning to the test with a two-day exercise simulating simultaneous well blowout and helicopter search and rescue incidents offshore Angola. Additionally, the training involved participation by Oil Spill Response Limited (OSRL), a global oil spill response organization, and a tour of their Southampton response base.
The GIMAT also participated in four major ConocoPhillips business unit exercises in 2013 with scenarios involving an exploration well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico; an explosion and spill from a floating production, storage and offloading vessel off the coast of Australia; a substantial tanker spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska; and an offshore well control event in Indonesia. The Gulf of Mexico and Alaska exercises each spanned three days. The Gulf of Mexico exercise involved about 150 industry and agency responders, and the Alaska exercise involved about 600 ConocoPhillips employees and contractors, as well as federal, state and local regulators, stakeholders and third-party spill response expert personnel.
We also have numerous local programs to practice and test our response capabilities. These drills often include participation by third-party experts, oil spill response organizations and government emergency response agencies.