Oil and Gas Risk Management in Calgary

By ,

Nimonik is in the business of developing accessible legal content and modern digital tools to support leading-edge companies which aspire to reduce risk and achieve compliance faster and easier.  For the second year in a row, we attended the Environmental Regulatory Compliance for Oil & Gas conference held in Calgary, Alberta. We will also attend the excellent Mining Health and Safety Conference in Toronto on June 16th, also organized by Marcus Evans.

During the conference, the idea of “risk” permeated many of the lectures, workshops, networking events and the coffee breaks.  Risk is a tricky and nebulous concept– so complex that CBC Ideas recently produced a 2-part series elucidating its’ origins, uses and pitfalls. It was only natural that both participants and presenters of the conference thought  of and manage risk in diverse and interesting ways.

At the operations level, the CH2M Hill demonstrated the value of asset management.  By using a systematized approach to asset management, project managers can reduce the risk of faulty equipment that can lead to safety, environmental or production issues.  Evaluating assets also leads to informed and cost-effective decisions regarding which equipment should be repaired, improved or replaced. Of particular interest was a presentation on the difficulties of navigating the evolving environmental regulatory requirements initiated through budget bills. The presentation offered the following advice for  attempting to convince decision-makers to take risk management and environmental compliance seriously:

  1. Accentuate the value of having a license to operate
  2. Educate decision-makers about environmental laws

and, when all else fails:

  1. Highlight imprisonment provisions as found within laws

Though risk should be at the forefront of every decision maker’s agenda, presenters also argued the importance of managing risk even at the operational level.  For example, a theatrical presenter aptly showed the transformation that a well-designed user-manual can make. My fellow participants and I were convinced of how such a well thought-out user manual can make a crucial difference in helping practitioners find the “right” information at the “right” time.  Representatives of Nexen and Suncor also shared experiences of innovation on the ground level. Both companies have developed in-house regulatory management systems to ensure that their database of regulatory requirements are vigilantly monitored to confirm constant compliance.

Risks, as the broadcaster Kathleen Flaherty notes, are taken to derive benefits.  Calgary clearly understands that the economic benefits derived from mining, developing and transporting oil and gas carry heavy risks.  From Nimonik’s perspective, the opportunity to see the variety of outlooks and solutions in managing risk was fascinating, motivating and inspiring.