Accessibility Links

Fire Safety – A Growing Concern in Oil & Gas

Date: 07 November 2015

The oil and gas sector is classified as a major hazards industry. As a result, related businesses have had to ensure their health and safety procedures are carefully considered and well developed. The sector continuously strives to improve safety standards through a variety of methods, including the education of those in leadership positions in the latest safety breakthroughs, investment in communications regarding the issue and improvements in co-operation and reporting standards within businesses.

The infrastructure of the oil and gas industry is often considered outdated, and so fire safety is recognised in the Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE) official guidance for the offshore oil and gas sector as an area of key concern. As fire and explosion risks in this industry are high, safety is naturally a constant consideration, but health and safety guidelines have evolved significantly since the early days of these traditional energy sectors.

Fire and explosions are of particular concern, as the ignition of released hydrocarbon can occur due to a number of problems such as corrosion, abrasion or fracture of pipes, or due to maintenance issues such as poor practice in breaking and re-making joints.

But with the vulnerable position the oil and gas industry finds itself in at present, with oil prices dropping and the lack of Greenfield projects being confirmed, budgets are tight and as a result asset integrity, safety and risk considerations are becoming even more important. Companies are placing more value on their assets – including rigs, refineries and general equipment – and are stressing the importance of maximising the longevity of such assets.

Businesses cannot afford fire damage or damage from explosions and so fire engineering is experiencing a rise in prominence. Companies are looking to fire protection system designers to design and maintain their current and future safety offerings; whether they be sprinkler systems, fire alarms or gas suppressors. While these requirements aren’t new, the importance placed on having cutting-edge offerings that will protect the assets of a business is growing and investments are increasing.

Demand for fire safety engineers and fire strategists is therefore also growing within businesses. Such specialists discuss overall fire security with business leaders: covering aspects such as building design with the architects to ensure fires can be contained; ensuring there are enough escape routes and they are easily accessed; and creating strategies for potential evacuations, ensuring they are robust and correctly implemented.

Fire engineering is a relatively new qualification, however, and as a result, there is a skills gap in the market. Very few educational institutions offer it as a course, with a select few from the UK, US, New Zealand, Sweden and Belgium specialising in such courses.

As a result of the limited number of experienced candidates and a growing demand, oil and gas businesses are looking to hire individuals with the required experience from other sectors. Fire engineering consultancies are also expanding their offerings to cater for the industries.

For further information on the roles available in the oil and gas industry or if you are looking to hire a fire engineering expert for your firm, contact LVI Associates today.