№6 June 2012Table of contents Issue Archive
№ 5 (May 2012)
Oil and gas industry is rightly recognized as one of the most dangerous professional domains. Despite the developed by the state legal regulations for industrial safety – and a dramatic drop in numbers of work-related accidents over the past 15 years – the number of calamities is still large and the consequences are disastrous.
By Denis Sherishorin
Crashes and failures of technical equipment are the most common cause of accidents. To limit the contingencies, complex and hazardous equipment shall be subject to mandatory conformity to safety requirements. In Russia, oil and gas equipment must comply with the requirements outlined in the regulations “On Machinery and Equipment Safety”, which is confirmed by either a mandatory certificate or a declaration of conformity.
The certificate tells the buyer that the equipment complies with safety regulations, providing a guarantee of acquiring a technical device confirming to independent assessment and the lab tests.
In reality, not all certificates provide such a guarantee – the market is packed with cowboy companies that will leave you with useless paper pile. Also, quite often due to lack of competent experts within an organization, certificates are being issued in violation of certification laws and regulations.
Every so often, the forgery of the certificate comes as a complete surprise for the manufacturer. If an agency has “doctored” the certificate, it is likely that the money will be wasted, and the manufacturer is highly unlikely to get a compensation. Again, the penalties for issuing false certificates are relatively low. Yet a company selling such equipment does so at own risk: after the first inspection the products will be confiscated and all those responsible – fined.
If the certificate issuing authority made a genuine error, the company only has to approach the authority and indicate the error, which then will be corrected and the document – replaced. This happens when the authority originally servicing the applicant, held a certification in accordance with the current legislation. An authority should issue certificates only within its field of accreditation.
Accordingly, an expert may sign only the certificates where the certified products comply with his/her accreditation level. That is, the experts are responsible for each and every document they sign.
How Сan a Сompany Defend Itself From the Unfair Cooperation?
First of all, it is important to run checks on the certification agency itself. The agency can be found in a special registry, where it will be listed relative to its certification system. Such registries are located at the Rostechregulirovanie website (for GOST R and Technical Regulations certification systems) and at the Customs Union Commission website (for certification in the Customs Union). The second important factor is the presence of full-time experts in various industry segments. Expert status is defined by his experience in both industrial and certification fields. The company should also check whether the certification agency holds an archive. Each agency is required to maintain the archive for five years, which must include not only a copy of the document, but also all the required certificatory documentation.
For oil field equipment used at hazardous production facilities, the company must get (apart from certificate of conformity) a usage permit from the Federal Environmental, Engineering and Nuclear Supervision Agency (Rostekhnadzor).
An expert can draft the approximate schedule for certification efforts and the required time using the “Rules for Using Technical Equipment at HIF”, “Rules for the Examination of Industrial Safety,” PB 03-246-98 and “Rostekhnadzor’s Administrative Regulations for the Implementation of its State Function of Issuing Permits for the Usage of Particular Technical Equipment at HIF”:
According to the law, the expertise with a subsequent opinion statement is carried out by an expert agency licensed by Rostekhnadzor for examination of industrial safety; the same agency can then be signed up for the acceptance tests. In practice, the expertise agencies (including the R&D Center “Techno-standard”) provide support for the entire cycle of permit authorization – such approach cuts the likelihood of possible failure in obtaining the permit due to submitting incomplete application forms or non-compliance of the application forms to Russian legal requirements and normative documents. The procedure itself is rather time-consuming; it should be understood that a failure at any step increases the overall duration of getting the Usage Permit.
It seems that currently the state steps up its control over the usage of oil and gas field equipment at hazardous facilities. First of all the authorities check whether the companies hold the permits – certificates of conformity, certificates of industrial safety, usage permits from Federal Environmental, Engineering & Nuclear Supervision Agency. For citizens, a minor violation leads to an administrative fine in the amount of 2,000 to 3,000 rubles; for the officials – from 20,000 to 30,000 rubles or disqualification for a period of six months to one year; for legal entities – from 200,000 to 300,000 rubles or administrative suspension of business for up to 90 days (Part 1, Article 9.1 of the RF Administrative Code). From Jan. 1, 2012 the fines increased tenfold.
If the violation of safety rules or conditions of license for mining, construction or other works, caused the death of two or more persons by negligence, then it is punishable by imprisonment for up to seven years, with disqualification to hold certain offices or practice certain activities for up to three years or more (Part 1, Art. 216 of the RF Criminal Code).
The choosing of the certification agency and expertise body should be approached with great care. Much attention should be given to the specialization of the certification agency and expertise body, reviews and recommendations from clients, experience and competence of the experts, option of getting a consultation on any issues or securing a field trip of the experts and professionals. The correct choice of the certification agency and expertise body is guaranteed to protect the client (producer, supplier or user) from unplanned costs and wasted time. Also, each document (certificate, declaration, usage permit, etc.) implies the responsibility of the owner of the document and safety of the equipment.