Diego J. González Cruz :
The safety situation inside PDVSA
Why do accidents happen at PDVSA installations?
During the early morning hours of Saturday, August 25, the Amuay refinery, the largest in the world, was rocked by an explosion which left at least 40 people dead, at least a hundred injured, and a number of people missing. The cause of the accident? A gas leak that had been detected a couple of days before. The underlying cause(s) of the accident still haven't been established, though everything points to a lack of maintenance and experience in preventive contingency plans. In this issue of VenEconomy, we are publishing the column Barriles de Papel Nº93 (Paper Barrels No. 93) written by a specialist on oil matters, Diego González. He describes just how serious the problem with safety issues is inside a PDVSA installation, as he witnessed while casually walking around one of them on Aug.24, a day before the Amuay disaster.
A research paper presented to earn the degree of Industrial Engineer in 2011, analyzed the safety situation inside a PDVSA installation. In an organization as delicate as the Office for Electrical Services – Ayacucho Division of the Orinoco Oil Belt Executive Office – which one would consider to be a modern and technologically advanced structure compared to the traditional and more “mature” oil producing areas in the western, eastern and southern parts of the country, or the refinery organizations, tanker parks or docking areas.
The information is collected in a monograph Referencia:
In summary, according to this study, and despite the fact that a high percentage of the personnel are well trained (79% have at least graduated from a technical school or have a university degree) and young (44% between 25 and 35 years old), the situation, to date, is the following:
1. 74% of the personnel surveyed have not participated in a Safety Committee.
2. 68% of the personnel don't attend Industrial Safety meetings.
3. 57% of the personnel admit to being only partially trained, or not trained at all, in carrying out the functions of their job.
4. 56% of the personnel don't know what the Integrated System for Risk Management is.
5. 49% of the personnel have not read the Industrial Safety Policy and 16% say that it is not enough or that it is not very clear.
6. Only 34% of the personnel said that the work environment is always good.
7. Only 26% of the personnel believe in the head supervisors of the area of electricity, and they demand more credibility and leadership by example.
8. Only 21% of the personnel are very involved in industry safety activities.
These results are worrying and reflect two things: a lack of supervision and a lack of commitment by the company when it comes to the safety of its employees and the installations. Any restructuring of the State-run oil company, if and when a truly democratic government comes to power, must begin by completely auditing the safety of the installations...
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Diego J. González Cruz, PE , is a Petroleum Engineer, specialist in Natural Gas, he served for 38 years in the venezuelan oil industry, currently serves as Senior Associate E & P and Natural Gas GBC Global Business Consultants (email@example.com). The views expressed are not necessarily those of Petroleumworld.
Editor's Note: This commentary was originally published by Veneconomia, on Sep 06, 2012 (
Veneconomy Monthly, Vol. 29 No. 11, August 2012 - 06/09/2012 )
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Petroleumworld News 07/09/2012
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