In 1994, during the Symposium on Sustainable Consumption in Oslo, production from worldwide sustainable enterprises was defined as “the use of services and products that respond to basic needs, improve quality of life and, at the same time, minimize the use of natural resources and toxic waste, as well as the emission of was and pollutants during the life cycle of the service or product, without jeopardizing the needs of future generations”.
Sustainable development is based on three factors: society, economy and environment. In the Brundtland report, it is defined as follows: Satisfying the needs of present generations without compromising the possibilities from the future ones to fulfill their own needs.
Moreover, the development and social welfare are limited by the technological level, resources from the environment, and the capacity from the environment to absorb the effects from human activity.
In a few words, sustainable development is a concept developed by the late 20th century. It´s an alternative of restructuring the concept of development and seeks reconciliation among the economic growth, natural resources and society. It is related to the public interest in which the economic growth and the use of natural resources is allowed, but considering the environmental and global social aspects, so neither life in the planet nor the quality of life in the human species is compromised or degraded.
Likewise, the idea of sustainable business or Green business refers to those enterprises that take measures to reduce the negative impact on the environment.
Normally, these measures imply reducing the amount of carbon dioxide generated by the practices and processes of the enterprise. These practices, currently should already be of common sense, as well as using less energy. The adoption of these ecology-efficient practices offers numerous benefits to those businessmen seeking to control costs, attract clients and be socially responsible.
As a green business, you should practice what you preach. This means to comply with all the environmental regulations applicable to your company, which not only protects the environment but also protects your business from penalties and sanctions by the administrations or official institutions dedicated to such issues.
Based on the arguments exposed at the World Commission for the Environment and Development of the United Nations, created in 1983, we can say that the assets management can and should support enterprises (in our case, oil and gas) to maintain a Green or sustainable production within the terms mentioned.
Many will say that the Oil & Gas business is exactly the opposite to the term Green or sustainable, as we have exposed it, but will also agree that it also represents a world of opportunities, in order to start taking measures that lead to the reduction of energy consumption and the amount of carbon dioxide generated by their processes.
In some of the Oil &Gas companies where I have worked or given consultation to, especially in Latin America, there is no culture of taking measures in order to reduce or optimize energy consumption in either gas or electricity, mainly. Somehow, this has an explanation: precisely, since the upstream process starts from what is produced, especially the gas used as energy for electricity generation or for the turbo machines, the majority of those operating or managing these processes consider this energy to be “free”; this evidences a lack of awareness on what sustainability represents.
For this reason, we can say that “green” maintenance or sustainable maintenance is applicable in Oil & Gas industries, although nowadays the majority of the regulations, Works, or publications on this topic have been more focused on the area of infrastructure maintenance, like buildings, houses, hospitals, etc.
The objective of this paper is not to develop a methodology for “green” maintenance, but to give guidance in the application of maintenance methodologies and strategies and current assets management; from our frame of action, we can support the Oil & Gas industry in using their assets efficiently along their whole life cycle, and thus become a key component for an efficient operation and an important reference in the path of sustainability, and to become a “green” enterprise for their own benefit, their clients’ and the environment itself.
As indicated previously, the objective of this article is not to show a new work methodology since there is currently a great variety of “green” standards, programs and products, so I consulted the U.S. Environment Protection Agency, which has programs and products dedicated exclusively to guide or support the enterprises, institutions (public or private) and people in general in the conservation of the environment and the reduction of energy consumption, among others; one of their methodologies was very interesting to me due to its simple way to be understood and applied. It’s called “ENERGY STAR”: it´s a joint program between the U.S. E.P.A. and the U.S. Department of Energy with the purpose of identifying and promoting energy-efficient products y practices that could help us save money and protect our environment. ENERGY STAR has an already proven methodology that we can adapt in our case.
The ENERGY STAR guidelines for energy management can be summarized in seven main steps described in the following graphic (fig.1)*
- STEP 1: Make the commitment.
- STEP 2: Performance Evaluation.
- STEP 3: Establish goals.
- STEP 4: Create an Action Plan.
- STEP 5: Implement the Action Plan.
- STEP 6: Evaluate Progress.
- STEP 7: Acknowledge Achievements.
STEP 1: Commitment with continuous improvement
Organizations, considering the financial benefits from energy management, continuously struggle to improve their energetic performance. Their success relies on the regular evaluation of this performance and applying measures to improve their energetic efficiency. Regardless the size or type of organization, the common element of an energy management is commitment. Organizations commit to assign personnel and financial resources to achieve continuous improvement. To establish your energy program, leading organizations build a dedicated energy team and have created an energy policy.
STEP 2: Performance Evaluation
Measuring the past and current use of energy in organizations and identifying the opportunities to improve energy performance and obtain financial benefits. Performance evaluation is a periodical evaluation process on the use of energy for all the main facilities and functions of the Company, and for establishing a base line to measure future results on efficiency efforts.
STEP 3: Establish goals
Performance goals measure the activities on energy management and promote continuous improvement. Establishing clear and achievable objectives is fundamental to understand previous results, the development of expected results, efficient strategies and sowing financial profits. Well-established goals lead a good daily decision-making and are the basis for following and measuring progress. Communication and publication of goals should motivate personnel to support the efforts for an energy management in all the organization. The coordinator of energy management, along with the team, are responsible for developing these goals.
STEP 4: Create an Action Plan
With the goals in place, organizations must now develop a work plan to improve the energetic performance. Successful organizations use a detailed action plan to ensure a systematic process in order to implement measures for energetic efficiency. Unlike the energetic policy, the action plan is updated regularly, mostly in a yearly basis, to reflect the recent achievements, changes in performance and in priorities. Although the reach and activities in detail from the action plan frequently depend on the organizations where they are implanted, the energy team should watch for the fulfillment of this plan and its compliance with the objectives and commitments from the enterprise, including all the elements like who, when, and how.
STEP 5: Implement the Action Plan
People can do or undo an energy program. Obtaining the support and cooperation from the key people on the different levels within the organizations is an important factor for the successful implementation of the action plan in many enterprises. Also, reaching goals frequently depends on the awareness, commitment and capacity of the people responsible of implementing the projects.
STEP 6: Evaluate Progress
Evaluating progress includes the formal review of data from the use of energy and activities carried out as part of the action plan, in comparison with its performance goals. Results of evaluations and information compiled during the process of formal review are used by many organizations to create new action plans, identify the best practices and establish new performance goals.
STEP 7: Acknowledge Achievements
Offering and searching for the acknowledgment of results in energy management is a step proven to maintain the impulse and support to your program. Acknowledging the participation of those who helped the organization to achieve these results motivates the personnel and employees and brings a positive manifestation to the energy management program. Receiving the acknowledgment of external sources validates the importance of the energy management program to those interested within and from the outside, and offers a positive recognition for the organization in its whole.
As seen on the summaries from each of the seven methodological steps of ENERGY STAR energy management, they are easily applicable to any type of Enterprise or organization, so I consider that there should be no inconvenience for its adaptation in maintenance management. The definition of strategies for the energy management as policies within the maintenance management will allow us, through the already mentioned methodology or any other, to guide our processes towards sustainability.
As part of this article, I would like, as I did with the ENERGY STAR methodology, to illustrate 7 practices, strategies or methodologies currently used and that can be the base to start the energy management, as part of the “Green maintenance” or sustainable maintenance. Additionally, in annex 1 there is a summary of some initiatives already certified by ENERGY STAR in the oil area, especially in Refinery:
1. Use of predictive maintenance techniques to allow monitoring and control of energy consumption and efficiency, especially to equipment like turbomachinery, motors and electrical generators, moto-compressors or reciprocating pumps which, in the Oil & Gas enterprise, is a type of asset we have installed in almost every facility, being the major energy consumers.
2. Emphasizing the analysis of obsolescence in equipment, and everything related to consumption of energy and lubricants, would allow us to replace or “revamp” for more efficient equipment from the perspective of cos-risk-benefit.
3. Design of strategies or maintenance programs (proactive) based on the energy level consumed and thus reducing the use of energy in assets drastically.
4. Design of strategies or maintenance programs (proactive) to avoid leaks; if we perform an analysis, we can get an impression on the great amount of gas, petroleum or oil burned or spilled to the environment through valve leaks mainly; likewise, the air leaks through gaps decrease the performance of turbines, coolers, boilers, and air conditioning, demanding higher energy consumption and lowering their efficiency.
5. Performing RAM studies or analysis (during the design phases) that would enable us to not only guarantee the desired availability and reliability, an optimal energy consumption, which implies evaluating the levels of redundancy (passive or active) and technologies.
6. In the intrinsic case of maintenance, we have to determine the amount of energy consumed to perform the maintenance process (planning, programming, execution and engineering), even if it´s considered insignificant to evaluate the periodical performance of energy use for all the maintenance facilities (offices and storage, etc.).
7. A greener and more sustainable maintenance management not only depends on the energy consumption control, so a good practice would be to abandon the use of paper. The cost of paper, its storage and ling after using it can generate great costs, and at the same time it´s inefficient; through the use of an electronic platform, its efficiency can be enormously improved and have a better control, besides optimizing costs.
The step to become “green” or sustainable goes beyond a fashion, but from no won its a ´key component for an efficient maintenance management, an outstanding route towards sustainability and future survival; so being “green” means incorporating this philosophy as part of the Assets Management System.
Author: Arquimedes Ferrera
E&M Solutions Group
Translation: Richard Skinner