Critical Event Management, Energy and Utilities

How Critical Event Management Helps Energy Sector Protect Equipment and Lower Costs

By Shannon Gallo

Severe weather can be especially costly to energy sector firms. For oil and gas companies with offshore drilling operations and onshore refineries in areas of high hurricane activity, rising flood waters may lead to expensive repairs of specialized – and expensive – equipment. Meanwhile, high winds can damage solar panels, particularly if they aren’t secured properly, raising the stakes for renewable energy companies. Further, the risk of explosions and other disasters increases with flooding and storm damage.

And those are just the equipment costs. The more damage you sustain to your operations, the longer your recovery will take. Thus, energy firms also risk losing customers, reputations and sales if they don’t take steps to prepare in advance for an oncoming weather event.

Being able to quickly identify a weather pattern or storm provides you with the time you need to prepare. Consider how energy firms on the Gulf Coast handled Hurricane Ida. Since the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina, the region’s oil and gas companies have invested significantly in their offshore infrastructure and onshore facilities – including oil rigs, refineries and plants – to make them more resilient, according to the Wall Street Journal.

But these companies also needed access to relevant risk intelligence so they could initiate response teams and alert workers to evacuation plans. By the time the storm made landfall, the oil and gas hubs in the region – which represent 15 percent of the oil and 5 percent of the natural gas in the United States – were secured and workers evacuated.

Without an effective way to identify relevant risks early, you’ll have less time to prepare ahead of a storm. Here’s how a critical event management platform powered by AI-enabled risk intelligence can give you the time you need to secure your equipment.  

Start Preparations Well Ahead of the Storm

As Hurricane Ida showed – and Hurricane Katrina before it – oil and gas hubs in the path of a storm can be impacted by high winds, heavy rain, storm surges and flooding, both during and after the storm. Power outages can also wreak havoc and make it harder to restart facilities that have been closed temporarily in the aftermath.

AI-enabled risk intelligence puts the storm on your radar, making it easier for you to identify which of your facilities might be at risk. With actionable intelligence in hand, you can trigger instructions to workers that will help them prepare equipment and safely shut down the facility.

Risk intelligence provides your teams with critical details needed to make appropriate decisions to mitigate damage. Predicted wind speed, for example, can help renewable energy companies set their solar panels at the right angles to protect them from damage. With enough advance notice, workers also have the time to check details such as inspecting electrical gear and connections, ensuring wires are fully secured and that racking and attachment systems have no loose or missing parts.

These preparations take time and care, but with enough notice, the facilities team can conduct a more thorough inspection and fully secure equipment.

Engage Emergency Response Teams in the Field

When the unexpected happens, the first step of any plan is to alert employees and get them out of harm’s way. This can be especially challenging for oil and gas companies and for renewable energy firms, whose workers are in the field under often dangerous conditions. How can you communicate more efficiently with emergency response teams and workers in the field?

A critical communications product (commonly referred to as a mass notification system or MNS) will help you share vital information to everyone in the field about the impending storm, as well as instructions about inspecting equipment and making needed preparations. At the same time, this capability enables field workers to provide updates on their whereabouts and well-being, allowing you to ensure their safety.

In addition, critical communications can save time when you need to mobilize specialized workers ahead of the storm to handle adjustments or conduct fly-overs to check equipment. Manually calling hundreds of employees can take hours. Automated quota calling enables your operations managers to call in the right experts in a matter of minutes with little effort.

Keep Stakeholders Informed with Streamlined Communications

A critical event management platform plays a vital role in keeping employees, customers, partners and vendors informed as a disaster unfolds. For instance, before Hurricane Ida, deliveries were halted in anticipation of road flooding, putting thousands of truckers on notice not to come into work. This use can easily save your company thousands of dollars by keeping drivers out of rising waters or sending them into danger zones.

With critical communications integrated into the platform, you can send out messages to all workers using a variety of communications methods, including voice calls, text and email, ensuring that you reach everyone in a timely manner. Once the storm subsides, you can keep customers apprised of progress for restarting hubs, thus saving potentially millions of dollars in lost contracts and a damaged reputation.

Leverage Critical Event Management for Everyday Use

Critical event management can also help you save in other ways. For example, you can use it to deliver everyday messages such as updates to employees about benefits enrollment deadlines, upcoming certification classes and company-wide events and activities. Additionally, the system can translate messages into each employee’s native language to ensure everyone gets the word.

When workers are fully informed, they’re more likely to be satisfied – and less likely to leave. Using critical event management for routine communications helps energy companies save on hiring and retraining costs.

For oil and gas companies and other renewable energy players, time is the most valuable asset. The more notice you have about an emerging threat, the more successfully you can prepare and protect essential equipment from being damaged. The more preparation time you have, the shorter your downtime is likely to be.

For more information on how you can protect your people, places and property, schedule a demo of the OnSolve® Platform for Critical Event Management today.