Crisis Management for Oil and Gas Companies

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Crisis Management for Oil and Gas Companies

Oil and gas companies operate in a high-stakes environment where the potential for catastrophic incidents, such as oil spills, explosions, and natural disasters always exists. These risks necessitate the establishment of robust crisis management for oil and gas companies to ensure the safety of their personnel and minimize potential damage to their operations and organizational reputation.

In this blog, we will uncover the importance of crisis management for oil and gas companies, and provide a comprehensive guide to help their teams navigate and succeed in the face of major incidents.

The Importance of Crisis Management

In the oil and gas industry, there are several things that can go wrong due to the nature of the job and hazardous materials used. This requires teams to focus on ensuring the safety of all of their stakeholders – making emergency preparedness their key to success.

Additionally, with the rules and regulations that come along with the industry, by employing the proper crisis management plans and tools, oil and gas companies can maintain compliance with the laws in their geographical location.

Lastly, by presenting a structured emergency response plan, organizations are able to demonstrate their commitment and ability to effectively manage crises to their critical stakeholders. By assuring stakeholders that they are aware of the risks and have a robust plan in place to solve them, oil and gas companies can ensure investor confidence and partnership stability.

Reviewing Your Existing Emergency Response Plan

Before establishing a new plan, teams must take an internal look at their existing resources and processes. By doing so, they can identify areas that may need improvement, allowing them to dedicate more time and effort to those steps when creating their new plan.

After reviewing the plan, teams can choose to either start a crisis management plan from scratch or update their existing plan using the guidelines below:

Creating a Successful Crisis Management Plan

Risk Assessment

To effectively establish a crisis management plan, teams must conduct a risk assessment to identify all of the potential risks associated with their practices. This enables the team to outline the scope of the plan, so that when an issue arises they are aware of the next steps and can take a proactive approach to emergency response.

It is also important to note that crisis management plans are not static documents. If a previously unidentified issue arises, it must be documented and added to the crisis management plan to ensure preparedness for similar incidents in the future.

Emergency Response Team

In the case of an incident, everyone must know their responsibilities to ensure that the emergency response plan goes smoothly. So, it is imperative to have a highly-trained emergency response team who has an extensive understanding of the crisis management plan and can take immediate action in the case of an incident, ensuring swift remediation.

Safety Protocols

Oil and gas companies have many safety protocols they must follow to ensure that they are keeping their staff and environment safe. These protocols should be outlined in the crisis management plan so that teams can take the necessary steps to protect their resources and stakeholders. These protocols can help to mitigate the impact of incidents and further prevent future incidents from recurring.

Clear Communication Channels

When an incident occurs, the emergency response team must be immediately notified so that they can take action. Many organizations use alerting systems, like OnPage, that deliver loud, distinguishable alerts that cut through the clutter and ensure that teams are immediately mobilized, even in chaotic environments. These solutions also allow for secure collaboration for seamless decision-making and crisis management execution.

Teams may also enhance their communication plan by using chat applications, such as Microsoft Teams and Slack, combining them with the power of OnPage’s critical alerting solution to swarm responders/team leads on incidents. This powerful combination not only helps eliminate disjointed and unreliable communication stemming from emails and call bridges, but also corrals response team members around a shared, single source of truth. By leveraging OnPage’s integration with these chat applications, crisis response leads can effortlessly “page” incident responders from within these chat applications and mobilize the critical resources needed for effective resolution.

Additionally, depending on the scope of an incident, teams may be required to deliver mass notifications to all of their stakeholders. So, they must have a mass notification solution that will ensure that relevant stakeholders are immediately alerted via their desired channels (email, phone, text, etc.) to ensure that they remain updated on the incident and have access to any necessary action steps to ensure their safety including evacuation plans or other safety instructions.

Continuous Improvement

Again, the crisis management plan requires constant review and updates, especially as rules and regulations change or unforeseen incidents arise. This ensures that teams are always prepared for future crises and are always prioritizing improvement to crisis management.

Conduct Regular Training Sessions

It is not enough to just have a crisis management plan. All team members must be familiar with the plan and know exactly how to execute it, in the case of an incident. So, it is paramount that teams have regular review and training sessions to ensure that all staff members can successfully follow the plan and incorporate any new additions or changes made during the last review.

What to do in the case of an incident

If an incident occurs, the emergency response team must have an established emergency response plan to ensure that they swiftly eradicate the issue.

For effective emergency response follow the steps below:

Emergency Response Plan Guidelines

Detect the Incident

Whether an incident is detected by a monitoring tool or a staff member, it is essential that the emergency response team is immediately alerted so that they can begin assessing the issue. Once they have identified the issue and its potential risks, they can begin to take the proper response steps to begin resolving the incident.

Incident Mitigation

The response team must take immediate measures to contain the incident at hand and mitigate any of the potential impacts. The most crucial aspect of this step is prioritizing the protection of staff members, the environment, and reputation of the organization.

Evacuation and Safety

Depending on the severity and nature of the case, evacuation may be necessary. Teams must ensure that there is a clear way to exit the premises for seamless evacuation of staff. Additionally, in the case of injuries or safety risks there must be strict protocols in place to swiftly deliver the necessary care and safety precautions.

Remediation

After the incident has been contained, teams can begin making long-term fixes. First, they must assess the damage and determine the required repairs for a full restoration of operations. Then, they must establish a coordinated plan for recovery.

Post-Incident Review

Shortly after the incident is contained, teams must schedule a post-incident review. At these reviews they can assess the success of the emergency response plan and identify any areas that they may have experienced delays or hiccups. By allocating time to a post-incident review, teams can proactively prepare for future incidents and facilitate continuous improvement.

How Alerting Solutions Can Improve Crisis Management

On-Call Scheduling

In the case of critical incidents, like a pipeline issue, there are often on-call service engineers scheduled to respond. Unfortunately, many organizations do not have an effective alerting tool to swiftly mobilize the engineer, resulting in delayed response.

With OnPage, immediately after a field technician detects an incident, they can deliver an alert to the on-call service engineer group, which then automatically routes the alert to the right on-call person based on pre-configured schedules. In the event where the first on-call engineer does not respond to the alert, it will be immediately escalated to the next on-call person in line ensuring that no critical alert goes unnoticed. OnPage alerts are loud and can even override the silent switch, reliably catching the staff’s attention in dire circumstances like these.

High-Priority Alerting

When time-sensitive issues, like fires or medical emergencies, arise it is crucial that response teams are quickly notified. Alerting solutions, like OnPage, enable teams to deliver high-priority alerts that bypass the silent switch on mobile devices. This ensures that critical alerts do not get buried beneath irrelevant emails and mobile notifications, enabling response teams to have constant awareness during emergencies and the ability to swiftly provide the necessary assistance.

After-Hours Alerting

Since incidents are unpredictable and can occur at any time, it is imperative to have continuous 24×7 coverage for incident response. To facilitate this, alerting tools like OnPage are deployed for their reliable alert automation engine.

OnPage ensures that alerts are routed to the designated on-call personnel at any given moment. If the initial responder is unresponsive or already occupied with firefighting another incident, the alert automatically escalates to the next responder in the escalation hierarchy, continuing this process until someone acknowledges the alert.

High-priority alerts are loud and audible, capable of overriding the silent switch on devices, ensuring that they can even wake up a responder if necessary. This systematic approach guarantees that critical incidents are promptly addressed, minimizing downtime and mitigating potential risks.

Post-Incident Reporting

To ensure a successful post-incident review and facilitate continuous improvement, teams must have proper documentation and incident reports to identify areas for improvement. OnPage helps teams improve transparency and conduct effective post-incident reviews through message audit trails, with visibility into when a message was Sent, Delivered, and Read, and post-incident reports. These reports will not only ensure continuous improvement for oil and gas teams, but will also enhance accountability across the team which can result in better communication, collaboration, and employee satisfaction.

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