Reciprocating Technology Services is Acquired

Reciprocating Technology Services is acquired by the Cooper Machinery Services family of distinguished brands.

Cooper Machinery Services (“Cooper”), a portfolio company of Arcline Investment Management, recently completed the acquisition of RTS, a TTS Energy Services company. Previously, Arcline had acquired Cooper from BHGE. The combined companies were rolled out at the GMRC in San Antonio in October.

“It has been an absolute honor and pleasure to work with the RTS management team, mechanics, field technicians, and support personnel. We all worked hard to start this company and to build a successful brand. Our efforts were clearly recognized by others in the industry.” Said Frank Hoegler, Former President of RTS and Vice President at TTS Energy Services.

RTS operated as an entirely separate division of TTS Energy Services since 2014, and for the past five years, Frank has split his time and energies between RTS and Turbine Technology Services, the sister organization of RTS. “With the separation of RTS, my focus is now squarely on growth for TTS and a smooth transition for RTS.”

“It is high praise indeed that Frank and his team built, in a very short time, an organization chosen to join such an exciting new venture in the gas compression industry. TTS Energy Services management saw this as an opportunity for the RTS operation to grow dramatically and succeed at a scale that would otherwise have taken years to achieve,” said TTS Energy Services CEO, Tony Thornton.


Since 1983, Turbine Technology Services has provided innovative technologies and engineering, high-value solutions and gas turbine expertise to over 400 clients worldwide. Our offerings to the global power generation and midstream industries include Controls and Control Panels, Gas Turbine Parts Supply, Conversions, Modifications and Upgrades, Asset Performance Technologies, Engineering, and OnSite Services, Power Plant Services, and DynaFlex Performance Services.

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Source: Turbine Tech

When It’s Hot Outside, Make More MW

Your Gas Turbine Can Increase Output and Revenue with Adjustable Peak Firing

The reports say that June was the hottest month ever in Texas, however, August may have blown that record away. As an example, ERCOT reported that on Tuesday, August 13, over 73,000 MWh were generated largely in support of every air conditioner in the state running full out. For a short period that day, Reuters reported real-time prices briefly soared to $9,000 per megawatt-hour as consumers cranked up air conditioners to escape the brutal heatwave.

Turbine Technology Services offers DynaFlex Performance™ tools that take advantage of this situation and help gas turbine operators produce more MWh and revenue.

Extra Power When You Need It

Depending on their power purchase agreement, gas turbine operators may receive payment based on their maximum generation capacity, or they may need to hold a certain amount of generation in reserve as a percentage of their maximum capacity. For these reasons, adding peak firing capability to both simple and combined cycle units can bring economic benefits without a substantial impact on maintenance costs when the peak fire capability is used strategically at times of high demand.

Traditional peak firing is commonly a fixed, incremental amount of firing temperature above the rated baseload firing temperature. This increase can equate to at least a 2.5 percent increase in the output above baseload for newer GE units and potentially more for vintage GE units.  Increasing firing temperature also increases NOx emissions – which means operators must take into account NOx emission limits as they incrementally increase firing.

Adjustable Peak Firing Keeps NOx Emissions in Check

Adjustable peak firing is a valuable tool in cases where emission values exceed allowable limits before the unit reaches its standard peak firing limit. It allows the operator to increase the load to take advantage of periods of high electricity prices while staying within the maximum allowable NOx emissions dictated by their emissions permit. This mode is especially useful for merchant plants with simple cycle units or with combined cycle units with SCRs.

With TTS’s adjustable peak option, operators slowly and incrementally increase output in steps of 0.1-0.2 MW, monitoring NOx emissions as load increases.

Operators continue increasing the load until they reach a NOx value that they decide provides an acceptable degree of margin in their situation. The adjustable peak option maintains an upper firing temperature limit equal to the standard unit peak firing temperature.

Implementation of adjustable peak firing requires control system logic modifications, HMI modifications (to select adjustable peak fire) and combustion tuning necessary to install peak firing capability.  Take advantage of this hot weather, keep your air conditioner running and make more MWh and revenue in the process.

How Can We Help You?

Contact TTS and speak with a gas turbine engineer for a custom-tailored solution that addresses your unit’s operating parameters, plant requirements, and business objectives explicitly.

Leave us a message or call (407) 677-0813 to speak with an expert today.

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Source: Turbine Tech

Modernizing Vintage Gas Turbines in the Natural Gas Pipeline

Efficiently manage your assets to improve the bottom line

Modernization involves more than migrating from an old vintage system to its modern equivalent. It requires rethinking applications and upgrading multiple technologies. But in the end, it can transform a compression station’s processes and help reposition its operations for the next 20 to 30 years.

To demonstate, in 2012 TTS was involved in the conversion project of a legacy GE Frame 5001 gas turbine.  The PLC-based turbine control system had become obsolete due to mechanical wear and outdated manual calibrations in the field.  TTS simplified the gas turbine fuel control system by eliminating the unnecessary pre-control valve pressure regulation.  The upgrade allowed for a more efficient, innovative fuel control system by reducing preventative maintenance costs from $5,000 to $10,000 per year to under $1,000 per year.  Furthermore, updating critical gas turbine instrumentation allows production machines to adapt to modern demands and ensures a reliable, productive service life.

The full benefit of a system upgrade is achieved if you do the upgrade in conjunction with a rewire and some device upgrades to support the new control systems and optimize its available features.  The primary benefit of a system upgrade is the availability of information that can be gathered, logged, and stored.  This information is paramount for operations and maintenance performance trending, predictive maintenance programs and troubling shooting problems.

There are, essentially, two types of system upgrades – drop-in and retrofit.  Read on to find out more about these system upgrades and their benefits:

Drop-in Upgrade

In a drop-in upgrade, there is no need for wiring changes, drawing changes, or engineering beyond specifying the equipment.  Examples would be:

  • Battery Systems – Charger and Battery
  • Motor Control Centers – where the control circuits are maintained


Complete retrofits, on the other hand, require detailed design engineering and the provision of new design documentation – specifications/drawings/software, etc. These include those above and the following:

  • Turbine Control Systems
  • Station Control Panels
  • Emergency Shutdown Systems
  • Compressor Controls
  • Motor Control Centers: Intelligent centers with control over Ethernet or DeviceNet
  • Electronic Valves applied to Fuel systems or replacing hydraulic actuators of any sort – IGV, for example.

By restoring old or obsolete automation systems that makeup only a fraction of plant capital costs, pipeline operators can more efficiently manage their assets to help improve their bottom line.  Furthermore, they can leverage advanced analytics to monitor and optimize multiple stations across their pipeline fleet.

Making Obsolete Systems Operational Again

Gas turbines have recently become the technology of choice for new U.S. compressor stations, but a lot of Frame 3 and Frame 5 gas turbine units have been in service for decades and are still in operation. Modernization presents an opportunity to mitigate the risks of vintage systems and help improve business performance long term.

The need for station and unit control reliability is critical in these decades-old facilities. But their aging or obsolete systems, combined with the lack of operational and diagnostic information available in those vintage systems, can make reliability elusive.

As a result, these compression stations experience a greater risk of production stoppages and downtime. They are more likely to face support challenges and difficulty with maintaining regulatory compliance. Likewise, they spend valuable time and resources performing manual data collection and reporting.

Modernizing to a contemporary balance of plant control systems can alleviate these challenges and facilitate tighter integration between unit control and associated subsystems.

TTS: We Know Gas Turbines

Turbine Technology Systems (TTS) is an alternative to the OEMs with 36 years of experience and gas turbine expertise. We currently serve six out of the top ten largest pipeline operators in North America with services including commissioning, fuel system upgrades, the balance of plant controls, control upgrades and control panels.

Learn more by visiting our website or contact Frank Hoegler, 407-902-1344

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Source: Turbine Tech

Grid Transformation Trends

Changes are happening very quickly in the electric power industry, flexibility, efficiency and predictive maintenance are keys to increasing reliability

Transformation… a thorough or dramatic change in form. This is precisely what is happening to the energy industry, often taking place way too fast for operators to keep up. The uncertainties keep growing, and the ramifications are challenging. Here are some of the trends that are challenging utilities in the transformation of the grid:

Turndown Ratio and Optimizing Combustion Dynamics

Wind and solar generation output varies significantly over hours to days. This intermittency and variability of wind and solar power generation presents challenges for grid operators to maintain stable and reliable grid operation, especially where renewable power is given dispatch priority (example: Western states, notably California), requiring flexibility and efficiency in operating gas turbines so that the system can respond quickly to fluctuations, outages, and grid support obligations.

Meeting this challenge is achieved by operating a central power plant so that they maintain their connection to the grid but run at part-load, enabling them the ability to rapidly respond to the rapidly changing demands on the system network. Thus, the optimization of the turndown ratio has become a trend among operators. Optimizing the combustion system allows the gas turbine to run at a reduced load (as low as 25 percent) without exceeding emission limits. Optimizing the combustion system is a valuable feature because it means the plant can remain online during times of high output from wind farms and solar arrays.

Turbine Technology Services offers DynaFlex Performance™ -Extended Load Turndown in Mode 6, providing more operational flexibility, less unit cycling.

Many 7FA DLN-2.6 turbines are commissioned with only 60 percent load turndown. We maximize turndown while also maintaining emissions compliance. Besides increasing operational flexibility, combined-cycle plants can avoid overnight shutdowns, reducing start/stop cycles and extending hardware life.

7FA gas turbines in 2-on-1 combined-cycle configurations incur increased life cycle costs if subject to load demand that requires one unit to be cycled offline frequently. One way to reduce the need for unit cycling is to enable the individual gas turbines —and, in turn, the combined cycle block as a whole —to turndown to a lower load.

Earlier vintage DLN-2.6 combustion systems were designed to operate with a “lean-PM1” split schedule in Mode 6, the low emissions (NOx and CO) operating mode. With the lean-PM1 operation, load turndown in Mode 6 is typically in the range of 50-60%, depending on ambient temperature, part-load control curve configuration and the thoroughness of DLN tuning at the low end of Mode 6. Below this load range,combustors with lean-PM1 split schedules will start to generate increased CO emissions, pushing them out of emissions compliance.

More recently, GE developed a new operational configuration employing “rich-PM1” split schedules. In Mode 6, rich-PM1 operation enables the combustion system to turndown to lower loads than the lean-PM1 system without experiencing increases in CO emissions. Typically, units employing rich-PM1 operation can achieve nominally 40% load turndown before CO emissions begin to increase.

Older units with lean-PM1 split schedules can be modified to operate with rich-PM1 split schedules and thereby achieve increased load turndown. This operational modification involves making changes to control logic but does not include any hardware adjustments. A complete retuning of the combustion system throughout the Mode 6 load range must also be performed.

Start/Stop Cycles

As mentioned, the energy industry is increasingly embracing renewables; one very impactful trend is emerging: gas turbine operators are having to multi-start machines, sometimes as often as twice a day. Multi-starting has become the new norm with 10-minute ramp-up periods. It is not uncommon to hear that some operators are having over 500 starts per year.

Vintage gas turbines were designed for operating with minimal starts. But with the grid transformation, multi-starting is putting high-integrity components through multiple strain cycles. Making assumptions that components can withstand these requirements based on the generalization that the increased number of starts is equivalent to a defined number of operating hours is at best optimistic, and at worst potentially dangerous for parts management.

In traditional use, the dominant failure process for hot components was “creep.” Therefore, they were designed using creep-resistant alloys. In this new era of multi-starts, the components experience high thermal transients during startup, and together with ever-shortening ramp-up times and increasing operating cycles, many operators have seen significant detrimental effects on the hot component’s integrity. For example, one operator we talked with recently related an incident during an inspection where a fuel nozzle that passed inspection just eight months earlier, he could now put his index finger into the opening.

Keeping track of as many as 500 starts per year and the fired factored hours has become a nightmare. And, no amount of skills in managing Excel spreadsheets will be adequate in suppressing downtime and keeping the equipment reliable.

If either of these trends are affecting you and the management of your gas turbines, contact an expert at TTS…we can help.

Turbine Technology Services offers Lodestar Turbine Parts Management™ -Predictive Maintenance Software Designed for Component Life & Outage Tracking of Gas Turbines Parts

Lodestar automates the capture and presentation of historical data and calculation of remaining critical parts life into a user-friendly interface. These features allow users to:

  • Significantly improve critical part management.
  • Increase maintenance personnel productivity.
  • Reduce overall maintenance costs.
  • Minimize outage downtime and delays.
  • Share unit information with key service personnel.

Lodestar provides service and maintenance managers, procurement managers, site personnel and fleet owners a very clear picture of what parts are driving upcoming outage decisions and the full range of parts repair/replace options currently available within the fleet.

The Lodestar scenario builder tool allows users to simulate different unit operating scenarios, including stop/start cycles to predict the impact on parts life and to optimize outage planning decisions.

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Source: Turbine Tech

Reciprocating Technology Services Opens Appalachia Sales Office

New sales leadership to drive growth.

Houston, TX (06/19/2019) – Reciprocating Technology Services (RTS) has coveted the Appalachia market for some time. There are hundreds of reciprocating engines and compressors in the region pushing over 30 million cubic feet per day of gas through thousands of miles of pipelines. The average age for these assets is well over 40 years. The Cooper Bessemer and Dresser-Rand equipment, RTS’ specialty, are well known for their durability and power but need service from time to time to keep the gas flowing reliably.

Frank Hoegler, President of RTS, stated, “RTS continues to grow and develop new opportunities. Our field service crews are our best sales assets because of their experience and expertise in slow-speed engines and compressors – the backbone of the natural gas pipeline network. But to get our crews the opportunities to demonstrate their skills and dedication to quality and ontime execution, we needed to find the right sales leadership for the region. Danny Clagg is an excellent fit as our new Sales Manager for the Appalachia region.”

Danny Clagg has been in the oil and gas industry for over thirty years and has honed his skills working for GE, Cameron, IMF and Sulzer in various positions, the last nine years in sales management.

“This is a great opportunity for my family and me, we are very excited to join Reciprocating Technology Services, an already successful entrepreneurial company that has a strong reputation for quality workmanship, ontime execution, and excellent project management processes. The Appalachia market is going through some changes regarding service companies working on these big machines; we want to take advantage of these market trends and drive our growth.” Said Danny.

About RTS
As part of the TTS Energy Services portfolio, Reciprocating Technology Services is an OEM alternative that offers agility, innovation and experience delivering industry leading, modernization, optimization, upgrading, aftermarket parts and custom services for their midstream compression clients. Based in Houston, Texas, their team of field service technicians and support personnel serves 6 of the top 10 largest midstream operators in North America.

Contact Information:
Scott Muster, Marketing Director, TTS Energy Services
9848 Windfern Rd Houston, TX 77064

The post Reciprocating Technology Services Opens Appalachia Sales Office appeared first on Reciptech Blog.

Source: Reciptech

Reciprocating Technology Services Adds Engineering Muscle to a Strong Service Team

Engaged, enthusiastic, and loyal employees are pivotal drivers of growth for any organization

Houston, TX (01/14/2019) – Reciprocating Technology Services (RTS) has added some key engineering expertise and sales management to their team. Frank Hoegler, President of RTS, stated, “RTS grew dramatically in 2018, and we think that trend will continue in 2019. It’s in our client’s best interest for us to make strategic investments in the right talent then put them to work leading and creating a safe and productive work environment for the rest of the team.”

Tom Anderson, Operations & Engineering Director

Tom Anderson joined RTS in 2018. He started his career with GE Power Systems as a Power Generation Repair Engineer focused on the aftermarket repairs of Gas Turbines, Steam Turbines and Generators. He is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a BSME and an MBA in International Business from the University of Texas at Dallas. He obtained his Six Sigma Black Belt certification from GE and was also a Six Sigma instructor for GE’s European Service Center network.

Tom has spent his entire career in various leadership roles in the aftermarket service of industrial equipment with GE Energy, Baker Hughes, Elliott Group and Cook Compression. He has a passion for customer service, around the clock support and continuous process improvement.

Ken Ashraph, Lead Rotating Equipment Engineer

Ken is a versatile technical leader with expertise in new product development, technology strategy and product management. Ken worked for Baker Hughes where he managed the New Product Introduction (NPI) Engines team dealing with analysis execution (CFD/FEA), testing, design and validation to meet engineering design review requirements and tollgate deliverables. Ken also worked with BHGE’s Global Research center for new technology development and integration into new product plans.

Now with RTS, Ken has taken over the development of a new starter systems RTS is introducing in 2019 for big engines like the CB W330 called EcoStart. This is a hydraulic starter system that has zero emissions and several operational benefits including the ability to “slow-roll” the engine. EcoStart is the result of a unique collaboration between Voith Turbo and RTS.

Allen Laribee, Sales Manager

Allen joined Reciprocating Technology Services (RTS) in 2017. He started his career as a field service mechanic. That appreciation for the fundamentals in medium and large bore reciprocating engines and turbochargers has made him an invaluable asset to clients.

Previously, he served in various sales management positions at OEMs and services companies including GE Oil/Gas, Cooper Cameron, Cooper Compression and Elliott Turbocharger. Allen managed key accounts for many prominent companies in the natural gas, nuclear, petrochemical, power generation, marine, and locomotive industries.

“RTS’s growth is impressive. The market is in a transformation period regarding people and equipment. RTS is taking advantage of that and making things happen on time,” said Tony Thornton, President of TTS Energy Services.


As part of the TTS Energy
that includes Reciprocating
Technology Services
, RTS is an OEM alternative that offers agility,
innovation and experience delivering industry-leading modernization, optimization, upgrading, aftermarket parts and
custom services for our midstream compression clients. Based in Houston, Texas,
our team of field service technicians and support personnel serves 6 of the top
10 largest midstream operators in North America.

Contact Information:
Scott Muster, Marketing Director, TTS Energy Services
9848 Windfern Rd Houston, TX 77064

The post Reciprocating Technology Services Adds Engineering Muscle to a Strong Service Team appeared first on Reciptech Blog.

Source: Reciptech

Turbine Technology Services Partners with Voith Establishing Actuator Test Stand

New Workshop at TTS Houston Facility Provides Greater Convenience to Voith’s Local Oil & Gas Clients

Houston, TX (09/04/2018) – Turbine Technology Services (TTS) and Voith recently joined forces to add an actuator, governor and turbomachinery (AGT) test stand at the TTS Houston facility. This development brings a support network of trained technicians to the Houston area, offering greater convenience for Voith’s local oil & gas clients.

TTS opened its facility in Houston in 2016 in conjunction with its sister company Reciprocating Technology Services (RTS). RTS has been working closely with Voith in a joint development effort to provide a new starting technology for large reciprocating engines that provide zero emissions and many other benefits.

“We loved the idea of bringing Voith into our shop,” said Frank Hoegler, TTS Vice President. “This partnership provides us the opportunity for a closer relationship with Voith and its Houston-area customers. What’s great is that TTS doesn’t compete with Voith, but we share a lot of mutual clients, so it’s a win-win situation for us and our customers.”

The AGT test stand has been up-and-running for over a month, explained Thad Berry, sales account manager at Voith Digital Solutions, Inc.

“We’ve had people knocking on our door since day one,” Berry said. “Having a local, certified team of trained technicians means a lot to our Houston customers. They want a local support network that understands the actuators and their applications with the proper equipment, tools, and expertise to perform critical maintenance and emergency repairs.”

Berry continued, “Actuators can be delivered directly from the field to Voith and its trained technicians – reducing the workload and time involved with shipping. That, in turn, means that repairs and maintenance can be completed faster, allowing for shorter outages.”

About TTS

As part of the TTS Energy Services portfolio that includes Reciprocating Technology Services, TTS is an OEM alternative that offers agility, innovation and experience delivering industry leading aftermarket parts, modernization, optimization, upgrading and custom services for our power generation clients. With over 35 years of experience providing technical solutions in the power generation and gas compression industry, TTS has managed hundreds of gas turbine installations and modernization projects. Based in Orlando, Florida, our team of 40+ engineering professionals has traveled millions of miles to over 90 countries serving more than 400 clients.

About Voith

Voith is a global technology group. With its wide range of plants, products, services, and digital applications, Voith sets standards in the markets for energy, oil and gas, paper, raw materials, and transport & automotive. Founded in 1867, Voith today has more than 19,000 employees and earns $4.7 billion in sales. It has locations in over 60 countries and is one of the largest family-owned companies in Europe. For more information, visit

Contact Information:

Scott Muster, Marketing Director, TTS Energy Services
9848 Windfern Rd Houston, TX 77064

The post Turbine Technology Services Partners with Voith Establishing Actuator Test Stand appeared first on Turbine Tech Blog.

Source: Turbine Tech

35 Years in the Gas Turbine IndustryWhere our renowned history meets a promising future

March of 1983, Turbine Technology Services (TTS) was founded. Our first project was in Saudi Arabia and involved taking over the operations of a 7EA power plant. This was a high-pressure project; it was not wise to disappoint the Sheik. The project lasted 2 ½ years, it was a fabulous way to begin our journey.

But this announcement isn’t so much about our history and what we were, but more about what we have become and where we are going. Our team of 40+ engineering professionals has traveled millions of miles to over 90 countries serving more than 400 clients managing hundreds of gas turbine installations and modernization projects and providing innovative and integrated engineering solutions – our hallmark.

We are part of the TTS Energy Services portfolio of companies, and, with our sister company Reciprocating Technology Services, we are positioned for growth. As an alternative to the OEMs, both organizations offer agility, innovation and experience delivering industry leading aftermarket parts, modernization, optimization, upgrading and custom services for our power generation and gas compression and transmission clients.

“This is an exciting time to be connected to such a great team of engineers and professionals who live and breathe customer centric values, power generation and technology innovation.” George Gramatikas, Founder, TTS.

Today the power generation industry is experiencing disruption of unprecedented scope and speed. OEMs are laying off employees and struggling to restructure their organizations.

TTS Energy Services is not down-sizing, but rather up-sizing. We have focused our strengths on growing the business, meeting new challenges and exploring a future that is filled with opportunities and promise.

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Source: Turbine Tech

Black Start – The Driver is Reliability

The solution is TTS’ Operational Excellence

The United States would face severe economic consequences if there was a serious disruption to the electricity supply. The cost could easily run into billions of dollars. While the likelihood of such an outage is low, the concerns regarding the possibility and impact of electricity blackouts is increasing. The leading concerns? Weather, aging infrastructure and cyber-attacks.Regardless of the cause, there are no yardsticks available to compare the cost of infrastructure investment to the cost of power outages. Just know, that it is all expensive. Add the potential for physical harm and injury to people effected by the blackout and there is no calculation that applies.

What is a “Black Start”?

A “black start” is the process of restoring an electric power station or a part of an electric grid to operation without relying on the external electric power transmission network. Needless to say, it’s a very complicated process. The controls and instrumentation used during a black start must operate dependably and with the utmost precision and speed.

A black start unit is one that can start its own power without support from the grid in the event of a major system collapse or a system-wide blackout. In the U.S., every region within the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) has its own black start plan and procedures. Each region also designates certain plants as black start units.

TTS Answers the Call

One of these plants recently contracted Turbine Technology Services (TTS) to work with them and other contractors to upgrade the plant’s controls and systems to meet the current technology and reliability standards. Black start operations are conducted in compliance with NERC Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) standards. Black start resources are linked to the CIP EOP-005-2 standard, and any cyber asset that is essential to the operation of a black start resource is a “Critical Cyber Asset” by definition, according to NERC.


The Scope of the Project

TTS is very proud to be awarded this prestigious project based on TTS’ wide collection of skills and experience. The project’s gas turbine reliability improvement scope description included a detailed engineering design package for all materials to be provided for this project.

Those materials include:

  • Complete Control Building (PEECC) for two (2) units including installation of EPWS equipment and FAT testing.
  • Electrical Equipment
  • Air-Start Compressor Skid
  • Fuel Oil Forwarding Skid
  • Transmitter Panels
  • Cable Tray
  • Conduit and Cable
  • Installation engineering
  • Test packages
  • Connection drawings

In addition, the scope entails the following site installation and commissioning activities:

  • Demolition of Complete Control Room Equipment
  • Equipment Installation
  • Complete project installation and commissioning
  • Fuel Skid
  • Compressors
  • Fuel Valves
  • Cable Tray
  • Conduit and Cable

TTS is excited to announce that the project is well under way. We’ll keep you up to date on what’s happening both here and on LinkedIn, so be sure to follow us online. You’ll be the first to hear all the latest details from TTS. To Be Continued…

Do you have a project that needs a TTS technical solution?
Contact us to see how we can help you meet your goals for operational excellence.

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Source: Turbine Tech

The State of Safety in Oil & Gas Industry – 2018

Abridged from DNV Report 05/07/2018

We work safer now than ever before, but: “You can’t take anything we do for granted… “

Recently, a horrible accident happened at a small welding shop behind our offices here in Houston. In this shop worked two or three welders, each one an experienced hand with 20-30 years of welding experience. While one of the welders was heating up a sealed pipe, something went terribly wrong: the pipe exploded.

When the pipe blew, we heard a loud bang and screaming. In the pipe’s sudden explosion, the welder tragically lost his arm just below the elbow. The EMTs arrived by emergency helicopter and took the injured man to the hospital to be treated. Fortunately, the man would live; unfortunately, he might not weld ever again.

Our safety lead at RTS, Tom Anderson, called an Emergency Safety Meeting. “You can’t take anything we do for granted—we work in a dangerous environment,” he said.

The oil and gas industry has become considerably safer over the past two decades according to data from several industry bodies, such as the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (IOGP), as well as national associations, including those in the UK, Norway, US and Australia.

Despite this, any time you work in a high-risk environment, accidents like the one at the welding shop behind us can occur. So, is enough being done to further improve safety in the oil and gas industry? Have recent market dynamics negatively affected investments in enhancing safety performance? And how aware are industry leaders of safety risks and incidents?

You just can’t be too safe.

Key Issue – Increased Risk Due to Reduced Maintenance Investment

According to the results of DNV GL’s 2018 Industry Outlook research, close to half (46%) of the 813 senior oil and gas professionals surveyed believe that too little has been invested in maintenance and inspection of installations and equipment in recent years. Some 38% said that safety management in the oil and gas industry is effective and does not need to change – 26% disagree, while 31% are neutral. This clearly shows that the industry is divided on the need to change safety practices.

It is also interesting to note that safety performance and investment increased during the strong growth years to 2014, but only risk increased through the challenging years that followed. We have heard where some companies inadvertently increased safety risk because of incentive programs that rewarded maintenance managers for being under budget on maintenance.

Certainly, many in the industry don’t believe that their business has made any compromises on safety. “The risk that we’ve got now, in the recovering market, is that companies forget about the underinvestment that they made,” says Graham Bennett, vice president, DNV GL – Oil & Gas. “Ramping up operations to take new opportunities can result in a worrying picture if companies don’t recognize the underinvestment made in the last few years. There is always a lag between periods of underinvestment and any associated safety impact.”

Downstream Sector Set to Invest More in Safety

In our survey, respondents from the downstream sector currently expect the highest increase in safety spending (41%) this year, compared with other parts of the industry. We also find the downstream sector to be more concerned about safety than other areas of the value chain. For instance, only 12% of respondents overall say that cost cutting over the past three years has increased health and safety risk, but this figure is nearly double (23%) in the downstream sector.

Digital Safety Measures Increasing

Many new investments in safety will be aimed at digitalizing safety monitoring, processes and responses this year. A clear finding from our survey is a significant increase in the proportion of respondents (54%) who intend to boost spending on digitalization in 2018 – up from 39% expected for 2017. Looking further ahead, over the next five years, 76% of respondents say they will invest in digitalization.

Already, even where cutbacks have been widespread, 40% say digitalization has improved safety over the past three years. “The industry has been a quick adopter of new technology and digitalization,” says Mr. Lu Nianming. “Technology has helped us improve safety monitoring systems, data analytics helps us determine which processes, areas and equipment are more accident-prone, while we have wearable equipment to monitor workers in case they faint or fall.”

A key advantage of digitalization in the safety context is that it can allow for the integration and transparent communication of hundreds of key indicators from across an organization. For example, DNV GL’s MyQRA service draws on data from quantitative risk assessment (QRA) reports to create a single source of safety data that can help all stakeholders generate deeper safety insights, better understand important safety signals, make decisions and predict future outcomes.

Senior Executives are More Positive About Safety Than the Field Engineers

Encouragingly, most survey participants (85%) say that safety risks and incidents are reported to senior management, and this figure rises to 91% among those working for companies with an annual revenue over USD500m. But how do perspectives on safety differ between those closer to the boardroom and those closer to the hazards?

Our survey found:

  • Senior management (45%) are more likely than engineers and technical specialists (32%) to say safety management is effective and does not need to change.
  • Nearly twice as many engineers/technical specialists (28%) as business leaders (15%) say that a focus on profitability has had a negative impact on safety performance.
  • Most business leaders (65%) say that senior management understands the impact of cost cutting on safety, while just 50% of engineers and technical specialists say the same.

This indicates that those in the boardroom are, to some degree, more optimistic about safety than those in the field. While further research is needed to understand why this is the case, it suggests that senior leaders in the oil and gas industry could benefit from spending time better understanding the risks faced by those on the front line.

The Right Mindset: Perpetual Improvement

Overall, long-term trends indicate a strong improvement in the safety of oil and gas industry workers over time. The industry appears to be largely continuing this path, increasing investment and modernizing safety procedures and equipment. However, there are reasons to caution the optimism – from lower investment in safety in recent years, to the relatively higher concerns identified in the downstream sector, and by more junior and technical employees.

“Operators cannot afford not to maintain safety – they are aware, of course, that they can’t compromise in this area – I don’t really believe they are allowing maintenance or safety standards to slip,” says Frank Ketelaars, regional manager, Americas at DNV GL – Oil & Gas. “In fact, in many places the pressure to raise standards has increased.”

In Closing

While zero risk is not achievable, much more can be done to stop preventable incidents. “We are in an industry that involves risks,” says Tom Anderson, Operations Director, RTS. “Safety incidents will happen no matter how much we do, but we can work to get the rate of incidents as low as possible. And to do that we must constantly focus on the need for improvements. Safety Matters Most.”

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Source: Turbine Tech