How Oil Companies can Maximize Their EHS/ESG Investments

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Oil pumps and derricks over sunset background. Vector illustration.

Many oil and gas companies have recognized the need for faster and more efficient business processes to compete in a more technology-driven world. Acting as a catalyst in this technological transformation are Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) programs. With a heightened global focus on sustainability and environmental responsibility, combining technology with EHS and ESG practices has become unavoidable. However, many companies are finding barriers to successful tech integration in these spaces — barriers they’ll have to break down to experience tangible success in future projects.

EHS and ESG — key technology drivers

Oil and gas executives are familiar with EHS and ESG efforts already because of the high-risk nature of the work and because oil and gas projects affect the local communities and environments in which they operate. The urgency surrounding these efforts accelerated in the last four to five years as the conversation concerning sustainability, and environmental responsibility has intensified globally.

With this increased focus on corporate environmental practices and proper safety measures, more companies are embracing technological solutions that help improve their safety postures, their environmental impacts, and their capacity for transparency around these efforts. Many businesses are finding that the right investment in the right solutions promotes cost savings, productivity and efficiency. Also, it becomes much more feasible to create metrics by which to measure ESG progress and efficiency and document feedback from community stakeholders. Tech advancements also make it easier to combine ESG practices — including ESG reporting — and EHS program management, a custom that is becoming more common for oil and gas companies.

Unfortunately, many oil and gas companies discover barriers to adopting new ESG and EHS technology solutions — often self-imposed — which prevent them from reaping the benefits that integrated solutions can provide. 

Barriers to technological advancements

Currently, the biggest barriers to tech advancement within oil and gas companies are the siloed approaches to technology or using different solutions in different parts of the organization. This creates a lack of integration and collaboration between those point solutions. The main cause of these silos is differences in specialization. For example, a company’s safety advisor may have adopted one solution to manage safety risks on-site, while an ESG project director may have selected a completely different solution to manage social risks.

Creating silos hinders transparency across departments as it becomes difficult to share data. When oil and gas companies enable transparency through investment in a technological upgrade — specifically a more centralized technology solution — it ensures a company’s resources are being used efficiently at any given moment. Upgrading also allows a holistic view of an ESG or EHS program to address any gaps or mitigate risks in the project.

Another barrier to ESG/EHS technology transformation is an incorrect assessment of organizational readiness. Companies may have the desire to enhance their safety and sustainability efforts but overestimate their capability and preparedness to do so. This usually displays as:

  • Lack of commitment from key internal stakeholders
  • Lack of governance to implement and sustain the solution
  • Lack of scalability or buy-in from departments
  • Adopting a solution that doesn’t have all the necessary services 
  • Inability to import historical data

Removing these barriers will make each technology advancement the asset it’s meant to be.

Overcoming integration barriers

Companies will begin overcoming EHS and ESG technology barriers once they accurately assess their ability to implement new technology and begin implementing more flexible solutions.

The key is integration. Implementing a centralized solution that can share data and address the needs of multiple specializations will make it possible to create seamless processes that span multiple projects. Legacy systems, while familiar and comfortable, should not hinder integration. It may be preferable to try out a new technology solution if it enables integration across systems, thereby facilitating shared knowledge company-wide. 

Additionally, companies must be satisfied with starting small. Starting with more manageable projects and then scaling implementation appropriately will ensure there aren’t gaps in EHS and ESG practices. A phased roll-out of ESG and EHS software solutions will prevent wasting time and money on overly large technology implementation projects that the company is not quite ready to take on at once. It will also promote user adoption and user engagement.

Masana Fuelling, a Scotland-based petroleum solutions company, experienced the benefits of ESG and ESH tech advancement through an integrated solution. 

“When I joined Masana, there was no system in place to manage EHS requirements,” said Mashiza Zama, Health, Safety, Security & Environment Manager at Masana. “There were multiple, disjointed spreadsheets, and it was extremely difficult to collate data and get an accurate picture of what was really going on in the business.”

Zama added that data was constantly getting lost, and records were nowhere to be found after completing analysis on a particular project. The company also found that conducting trend analysis was difficult.

Working with an integrated technology solution allowed Masana to link its audits, risks and incidents, allowing the team to see everything on one platform. “We can take more control of our risk management by being proactive,” Zama said. “We would not be able to do this without having all of our data in one place.”  

Get the most out of your investment

Removing barriers that prohibit ESG and EHS technological advancement allows oil and gas companies to use time and resources more efficiently. Not only does this help ensure a better return on investment in new technology, but it also has the potential to reduce supplemental expenditures on utilizing third parties for data collection. Eliminating gaps in environmental and sustainability efforts through more advanced, centralized solutions will enable safer projects, happier community stakeholders, and more transparency with investors. 

About the Author: Shannon Lardi is the Partner Enablement Manager at IsoMetrix, a leading integrated risk management software provider that provides ESG and EHS solutions. She started her career in the United States Marine Corps, working in Communication-Electronics where she developed a passion for driving efficiency with technology. Shannon spent nearly two decades at ExxonMobil, implementing business intelligence tools across the company. Her passion and expertise are focused on building lasting relationships and executing sustainable solutions for the good of the people and the communities we work in.

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