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Editorial comment

Chevron’s Gorgon Project is now 90% complete, and the upstream services including subsea gas gathering system, pipelines, wellheads and associated facilities for the 18 high-rate, big-bore development wells drilled at the deepwater Gorgon and Jansz-lo fields are completed. Pre-commissioning activities are underway on the subsea facilities at both fields. Set on remote Barrow Island, a Class A Nature Reserve situated 37 miles off the Western Australian coast, the project has been a technical, environmental and safety success story for all operating parties. The project includes a three-train, 15.6 million tpy liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility and a domestic gas plant with the capacity to provide 300 TJ/d of gas to Western Australia. First gas into the system is expected mid-2015, with LNG sales later this year.


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To reduce greenhouse gas emissions by around 40%, the project also includes the world’s largest commercial-scale CO2 injection facility, which will inject and store CO2 into a deep reservoir unit more than 2 km beneath the island.

All of this makes for one impressive package, but it has been Chevron’s stringent quarantine efforts that have ensured the project’s legacy in setting a precedent for others operating in locations with high conservation values.

According to Chevron, 55 000 shipping containers have been screened to date, along with more than 335 000 passengers and enough food to serve over 10 million meals. And there have been zero introductions or increases of nonindigenous species on the island or in its surrounding waters.

The quarantine management system model is as complex as it is rigorous. All personnel, equipment, and cargo are screened prior to departure to the island, then upon arrival secondary checks take place. Oversized machinery and equipment are shrink-wrapped and undergo pest control measures. Anything noncompliant is sent back, or refused transit in the first place. Then there is the continuous ecological monitoring and surveillance carried out by the Gorgon Project Quarantine Operations staff. Additionally, there is a strong quarantine best practice culture in place, with mandatory training and a comprehensive guidebook for all working onsite.

Detection successes for the project have included a germinating grass seed discovered in an excavator radiator and a live gecko in a tennis racquet cover.

I was speaking with a contract worker on the Gorgon Project recently and he said that along with quarantine education, Chevron has placed a strong emphasis on safety and risk awareness training. Tools such as the Stop Work Authority (SWA) give all individuals the authority and responsibility to halt work if conditions or actions are deemed unsafe. Stopped work is then reported, and appropriate measures are taken to resolve any issues and curb hazards.

Gorgon Project workers undergo training to recognise hazards, and most importantly, learn to speak up without fear of disregard or retribution. This is a model that should work across all global oil and gas sites.

A strong workplace HSE culture must be encouraged from the top down, with line mangers and superintendents taking the time to firstly train, and secondly listen to their staff. Our industry is often in the media for all the wrong reasons, and it’s great that operators can share best practices and global models to ensure we all move forward in the right direction.

Whether it is workers watching out for geckos or each other, I was pleased to learn more about the safe, successful work carried out in this sensitive place.

As always, this issue of Oilfield Technology brings you exciting technical articles from upstream projects across the globe. We’ve got a couple of articles that showcase how important the environment is to our industry, for example: ProSep (p.35) discusses produced water treatment and handling and Veolia (p.51) shares North Sea decommissioning case studies, where over 98% of materials have been successfully recycled. If HSE topics are of particular interest, then don’t miss our designated section on our newly launched website, www.oilfieldtechnology.com/upstream/hse/. For more news you can also follow us on Twitter (@Energy_Global) and join our Group on LinkedIn (Oilfield Technology).