Not long ago, Kuwait National Petroleum Company (KNPC) found itself in the dubious position of being accused of environmental sins the company was not responsible for committing, but having no way of proving its innocence.
Residents of nearby communities would complain to KNPC about their eyes burning and the smell in the emirate's oil-rich southern region. They would blame KNPC, and there was no credible way for the company to prove otherwise, even though the company has long been committed to protecting the environment and residents.
'We couldn't tell this story without an information management system in place to show it,' says Heba Y. Al-Qabandi, Senior Environmental Engineer in the Safety, Health and Environmental (SHE) Department at KNPC. 'People would look over and see our smokestacks and assume that we were the problem.'
In looking for a software system to help document the company's stature as an environmental leader, KNPC chose Essential Suite™, the fully integrated, 100 percent browser-based Environmental, Health & Safety (EH&S) and Crisis Management solution by ESS. Essential Suite transforms EH&S and Crisis Management data into the information needed to support regulatory reporting and business-enhancing performance metrics to drive operational expenses and risk out of business.
KNPC's environmental strategy is rather unique in an era when compliance is generally the initial, if not primary, driver for implementing information management systems. While more and more organizations are using their compliance solutions for Operational Risk Management, KNPC continues to break new ground on the environmental front and has been identified by the Kuwaiti government as a best practices model.
'KNPC is and has been a leader on social issues,' said David Bradley, Regional Manager at DS&S, an international systems integration and information technology corporation that was one of two primary implementation partners on the KNPC project. 'They do it, not only for regulatory compliance, but for social responsibility.'
The local partner for the project is Integrated Environmental Solutions (IES), a subsidiary of Petroleum Services Company (PSC) that was established to respond to EH&S demands in Kuwait and the region for automated solutions that reduce the costs and increase the effectiveness of environmental management.
Managing Operational Risk
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) statutes are among those ESS' software is designed to address. In Kuwait, environmental authorities are pushing for an EPA-like compliance and enforcement framework, and the ESS implementation is one of the primary activities that put KNPC on the cutting edge of this movement, said Dr. Sami Al-Yakoob, General Manager, IES.
'KNPC is the first company in Kuwait to have an automated system for complying with changing environmental regulations, along with their own corporate requirements,' said Dr. Al-Yakoob. 'This is quite an accomplishment. It's one that I know KNPC is very proud of.'
'It has been a very leveling experience for us, as well,' Dr. Al-Yakoob said. 'And, in the process, ESS, DS&S and IES have established an effective foundation and methodology for implementing scalable, flexible EH&S and Crisis Management solutions designed to help organizations throughout the region improve overall performance by reducing the risks and costs associated with compliance'
KNPC operates one of the world's largest oil complexes, with a total capacity of nearly 1 million barrels a day from three refineries. As the downstream subsidiary of the state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Company (KPC), it is responsible for all refining activity in the country. With about 14,000 employees and contract workers, it is one of the primary employers in Kuwait.
This primary organizational risk the company wanted to address involved the company's reputation with local residents. Essential Air™, Essential Water™, Essential Waste™, Essential Chemical Inventory™ and Essential Industrial Hygiene™ were called on to help change the tide. Once the applications were implemented, the first order of business for the company was to develop a baseline emissions study, which ultimately proved KNPC's point.
'With Essential Suite, we can now give an accurate picture of our emissions system,' Ms. Al-Qabandi said. 'It has shown the system to be valid.'
Invest Wisely to Get Results
KNPC is also using Essential Suite™ in the design phase of its fourth refinery, which is expected to increase daily production by about 400,000 barrels when it comes on line at the end of the decade. The goal is to build emissions-reducing characteristics into the facility itself by using the suite to run 'what-if' scenarios to incorporate BACT equipment and configurations.
In addition, Essential Suite is a core component of the company's project action plan for long-term sustainability. With the emissions baseline established, KNPC uses an aggressive, action-oriented system to:
Perform detailed exposure assessments and formulate recommendations for additional control devices.
Expand the use of Essential Suite to additional key systems.
Prioritize and implement emission control recommendations.
Use Essential Suite for local, national and international communications.
Conduct continuous process reviews to improve KNPC's long-term sustainability.
As a result of all of this, the Environmental Public Authority in Kuwait is showcasing KNPC to other industries as an example of how emissions can be monitored, managed and reported. The agency also adopted a statute that requires all facilities in the country to conduct baseline emissions studies.
'The key here is to demonstrate the environmental benefits of KNPC's ongoing investments to communicate their social responsibility,' Mr. Bradley says. 'With their investments, they have accomplished this and more.'