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ONGC Institute of Petroleum Safety, Health and Environment Management (IPSHEM), Goa, organized a special webinar on ‘Disaster Risk Reduction & Resilience in Hydrocarbon Sector’ on 12 April 2022. This was organized in collaboration with the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), in a bid to reduce and avoid the potential loss of lives and property during a disaster. The webinar was attended by officials from different work centers of ONGC and others specializing in this field.

NIDM Prof Surya Parkash said that India has expanded its natural gas grid to 34,500 km and is planning to add another 17,000 km pipeline in the future
NIDM Prof Surya Parkash said that India has expanded its natural gas grid to 34,500 km and is planning to add another 17,000 km pipeline in the future

The program was initiated by NIDM Prof Surya Parkash, who gave a detailed technical roadmap on how to assess and undertake appropriate steps to mitigate and prevent the disaster.

Prof Parkash threw light on India being the third largest energy and oil consumer in the world, and the fourth largest importer of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

"Since energy is very important in our lives to fulfill most of our requirements, we need to conserve and protect it from any kind of risk, be it natural, manmade or from the industry, itself,” he explained.

“The resources in our country are unevenly distributed and so, there are variabilities in their locations that further expose them to different types of risks, including extreme climatic conditions, terrain and other types of activities being carried out in those areas, like exploration and exploitation,” Prof Parkash added.

“For instance, extreme heat waves have also resulted in the leakage of natural gas”, he said, adding that it is worth mentioning this is why ONGC has prepared a corporate-level disaster management plan in order to control blowouts in the oil wells, fires, and toxic gas releases, leading ecosystem disasters.

Citing examples of emergency situations, like the release of Methyl Isocyanide during the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan, Prof Parkash stressed that we need to learn lessons from the past incidents where more people were killed due to gas released from this offshore platforms rather than the disaster itself.

“We can ward off such disasters in a preventive mode before they actually happen in a post-maintenance stage. Occupational safety of workers at workplaces become the priority at such times,” he added.

Therefore, several policies and legislations, such as the Factories Act 1948, Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989, Petroleum & Natural Gas (Safety in Offshore Operations Rules, 2008, Emergency Response and Disaster Management Plan, 2011, have been chalked upon in a bid to control such disasters and protect lives.

These administrative structures were actively stated by the center, state, and local governments for effective planning against disasters by all corporates and organizations. These guidelines have been extended across several applications, including storage, explorations, distributions, assessment, and conservation of petroleum and natural gas.

Prof Parkash mentioned several instances of pipeline disasters that occurred in India due to natural calamities in the recent past
Prof Parkash mentioned several instances of pipeline disasters that occurred in India due to natural calamities in the recent past

“We need to develop the culture of risk assessment, prevention, mitigation, preparedness, and efficient response utilizing the state of our technologies collaboration and early warning systems that can save several lives,” he stated.

These plans help in understanding/identifying the disaster risks, whether they are tolerable or intolerable from different perspectives, such as primary/secondary/tertiary hazard, that can strike the industry and the degree of vulnerability (loss within a given space and time).

Prof Parkash also stressed on the need to conduct inter-agency coordination through mock drills and exercises or simulation exercises, investing in DRR- structural measures (civil construction)/non-structural measures (plans/procedures/guidelines) to control losses and minimize risks.

He also spoke about PM's 10 point agenda on imbibing the principles of Disaster Risk Management to prepare/minimize/mitigate and train workforce on disaster management.
At times, the emergencies can escalate to such an extent that the required level of response would be beyond own resources and sometimes require international and national support as well.

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 has been introduced as the roadmap for how we can make our communities safer and more resilient to disasters.

In addition, the 15th Finance Commission has also dedicated for the Disaster Risk Management (NDRMF and SDRMF) for 5 years, from 2021- 26, and proposed four insurance interventions - National Insurance Scheme for Disaster-related Deaths, Synchronizing Relief Assistance with Crop Insurance, Risk poll for infrastructure protection & Recovery, Access to International Reinsurance for Outlier Hazard Events, CSR Funds and PM CARES FUND.

The India Disaster Resources Network IDRN that is a web-based platform for managing the inventory of equipment, skilled human resources and critical supplies for emergency response further focuses on finding answers on availability of equipment and human resources required to combat any emergency situation.

Prof Parkash sheds light on how to maintain the economy flowing since energy is one of the most perspective-oriented sectors
Prof Parkash sheds light on how to maintain the economy flowing since energy is one of the most perspective-oriented sectors

“Furthermore, we can bring innovation and automation through robots and drones. One obviously cannot handle this alone, so you need to build up partnerships with other stakeholders, corporates and NGOs. Disasters may come and go but building our resilience in order to regain our position as soon as possible post any disaster situation is of utmost importance," Prof Parkash noted.

The Institute of Petroleum Safety, Health and Environment Management (IPSHEM) is one of the premier institutes of Energy Maharatna ONGC for promoting safety, occupational health and environment practices and standards in Petroleum sector. It regularly organizes workshops on issues relating to Petroleum Safety.