The American Petroleum Institute (API), the American Trucking Associations and the National Tank Truck Carriers unveiled nearly two dozen recommendations Tuesday to improve road safety and traffic management in oil and gas operations.
Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) launched the Truck Safety Task Force in 2012 to improve communications about road safety among its membership and the broader public. Houston-based CEA, which is comprised of transportation, agriculture, businesses, consumers and energy organizations, recently adopted the recommendations at a meeting in Houston.
"We thought it was a good idea to get energy producers and the trucking industry together to talk about increased truck traffic," CEA President David Holt told Rigzone in an interview.
Road safety and traffic management have become significant issues in shale areas such as the Eagle Ford play in South Texas and the Bakken in North Dakota due in part to the increased volume of traffic on roads. Truck drivers coming to the oil and gas industry from other industries also need to be educated on the challenges of navigating small, rural roads and various terrains.
While the recommendations are already in place in the various industries which CEA represents, the idea behind the Truck Safety Task Force was to capture them in one place and show what the oil and gas industry and trucking companies are doing to improve driver safety.
"We wanted to make sure some of the energy producers were talking to the right people, and that the oil and gas and trucking industries jointly monitoring drivers would be more effective versus separate efforts," Holt commented.
CEA believes that North America has a tremendous opportunity to become energy self-sufficient, spur job creation and growth across the entire U.S. economy and that developing these resources is dependent, in part, on responsible and safe trucking operations, said Holt in a statement.
"Member companies of these producing and trucking organizations should be applauded for their voluntary and forward-looking action."
The idea behind the task force recommendations was to take the same culture seen in the trucking industry focused on hauling chemicals and petroleum products, John Conley, past president of the National Tank Truck Carriers and Trucking Safety Taskforce co-chair, told Rigzone. The recommendations are intended in part to help guide trucking companies who are going into areas where they have not previously operated. The truck safety regulations for chemical and oil products are not very different from upstream, with the minor exception for the hours of service.
"One of my reasons for pushing this is that shale development is such an opportunity for the country, and to ensure that people from different communities don't get frustrated with trucks coming in and out," Conley noted.
The recommendations will help ensure that truck traffic doesn't negatively impact drilling and development. Conley also sees a shortage of trucks drivers not only in oil and gas, but across the trucking industry as well. With companies competing for drivers, it becomes more incumbent on the carrier to ensure the drivers they hire are capable of meeting safety requirements and hauling oil and gas materials.
The oil and gas industry is committed to protecting its employees, the environment, and the communities where we operate, all while increasing energy security by safely and responsibly developing the energy America needs to fuel its economy," said Holly Hopkins, API upstream senior policy advisor, in a statement.
The recommendations for transporters and producers made by the Trucking Safety Task Force are available online and include:
Recommendations to hold frequent meetings with motor carriers to evaluate safety issues
Develop methods for encouraging a culture of safety
Techniques to promote access to safety education resources
Practices to properly inform all drivers on the delivery and removal of equipment and materials used during oil and gas production
Producers also are encouraged to monitor and enforce requirements for proof of regulatory compliance by motor carriers and to not hire those with unsatisfactory safety ratings. Transporters and producers are encouraged to be sensitive to local impacts and, to the extent possible, schedule deliveries and movements to minimize the traffic impact on local communities.
Technology is one solution that oil and gas companies have been using to monitor driver behavior to improve safety, a trend which Rigzone reported on recently.