Blogging to Resume Shortly

Blogging has been limited lately due to an extensive travel schedule. Blogging will restart in a week or so


Fatigue Raised as Possible Factor in Kleen Energy Systems Explosion

photo : Dayton Daily News

A fire and explosion killed five people and injured several more on Sunday  at a gas-fired power plant under construction at Middletown, Connecticut.

According to initial reports, the blast occurred during testing at  facility, according to a statement by the mayor's office late on Sunday.

A natural gas leak caused the blast during the testing of the plant, which was 95% complete and was due to come on stream later this year, according to reports.

New reports are suggesting that fatigue may have been a major factor, with some workers reportedly working 12-hour shifts, 7-days per week for an extended period.

There is much guidance available on the risks associated with fatigue. The UK Health and Safety Executive publishes an excellent guide to fatigue and its risks. Although it is too early to say whether fatigue was truly a factor in this instance, it is known to have been a factor in other major instances, such as BP Texas City, and steps should always be taken to avoid chronic fatigue and the associated risks.


Downstream Changes at Shell

photo : icnetwork.co.uk

Following  relatively weak 4th quarter 2009 results, Shell has commented on the need for further downstream changes in order to improve company performance

Commenting on the results, Shell CEO Peter Voser noted that Shell's fourth quarter was impacted by the weak global economy. He noted that oil prices had increased compared to a year ago but gas prices and refining margins had declined sharply, because of weaker demand and high industry inventory levels.

Shell's assumption is that there won't be a quick recovery, and the outlook for 2010 will remain uncertain. As a consequence, it has sold a number of downstream assets and closed a refinery in Montreal, Canada. A number of other cost cutting initiatives are either underway or being actively considered, including further downstream divestments and a major downstream cost reduction programme.

The assumption that the recovery will not be rapid means that Shell is taking decisive action to position itself for the coming years. The assumption is equally valid for chemicals manufacturers. Actively planning for this scenario, whilst retaining the ability to be innovative and flexible, will be the key to future success, whereas batoning down the hatches and trying to ride out the storm will only lead to difficulties.