Professors and researchers at UND could be part of a first-of-its-kind study, marking the convergence of aviation expertise with petroleum engineering knowledge to improve a culture of safety in the oil and gas industry along America’s Gulf Coast.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine recently announced that Daniel “Kwasi” Adjekum, an assistant professor of aviation in the UND aerospace school, has been awarded $755,000 to support research as part of a larger $7.25 million Gulf research program.
Adjekum, an internationally respected aerospace researcher, has published extensively on safety culture in aviation.
Adjekum will work with Vamegh Rasouli, who leads the UND petroleum engineering division, and will include collaboration with the U.S. Coast Guard.
“Borrowing the ideas from the aviation industry, where the safety measures are of the highest standards, and considering their applications in oil and gas, is the unique nature of this study," Rasouli said in a statement. “We believe it is one of the first of such studies worldwide.”
Oil and gas production in deep water are hazardous activities that can fail in complex, catastrophic ways, as illustrated by the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, according to NASEM.
“While many factors led to this disaster, several reports issued in the aftermath emphasized the need for an improved safety culture within the offshore oil and gas industry,” stated a news release from NASEM.
The UND project will assess the viability of an offshore safety action reporting system by using focus groups, interviews and a quantitative survey of about 1,500 personnel. The study also seeks to assess gaps between the perceived level of safety reporting culture and the actual level of safety reporting in the Gulf of Mexico oil and gas industry.
Adjekum has more than 20 years of experience in aviation and occupational health safety, including service as head of safety in the Ghanaian Air Force and a certifying expert for occupational health and safety professionals in the U.S. and around the world.
“In this industry, safety is the first thing that all companies are concerned about,” Rasouli said. “Any incident that happens, due to safety oversights, can cause significant damage to the reputations of operators, which directly impacts their businesses and revenues long term."