SPE Online Education
Mitigating Security and Safety Risks of Sealed Radionuclide Sources Used in the Petroleum Industry: Regulations to Protocols to Technology
Recorded On: 11/14/2017
The tragedy of 9/11 and subsequent world events have raised the risk profile of radioactive sources used in various industries, due to their potential for use in radiological dispersal devices (RDD’s) or so-called ‘dirty bombs.’ Of particular concern are the small, mobile sealed sources used by the petroleum industry, often in unstable regions of the world, in two critical applications, namely,1) well logging integral to estimating reserves and making viable completion/production decisions and 2) radiography to monitor integrity of structures, facilities, pipelines, etc. Stolen/missing sealed source incidents, a black-market on sources in general, reported attempts at their malevolent use, and a lack of clear insurance mechanisms to manage liabilities of an RDD incident have exacerbated the dilemma. Consequently, governments face radiological security threats and petroleum industry faces a multiple-discipline (HSSE, D&C, RDD) challenge. An untimely source-use ban would deprive the industry of a critical technology with potentially large financial consequences and human costs. A number of risk mitigation steps are underway, complementing decades-long industry R&D on alternative logging technologies. These include stricter regulations with enhanced physical security, new handling protocols by agencies and some operators, active assessment of technologies by both national labs and industry to electronically tag radioactive sources, and possibly replace them with electronic radiation sources, nonnuclear techniques, or both.
The presentation first discusses the varied landscape of source use by the industry and associated risks. It then describes the mitigation steps underway, especially their complex nexus, associated challenges and cross-disciplinary impacts to pose the question: Would these steps suffice or must source-use be abandoned? The talk explores why and how the industry can partner with various stakeholders in the mitigation efforts to address this multilayered challenge.
Ahmed Badruzzaman is currenrly an SME consultant to US Department of Energy (USDOE) on mitigating security/safety risks of sealed radiaoctive sources used in the petroleum industry. He also serves on the DHS/DOE Working Group on non-isotopic alternative technologies for use in mutiple industries. He continues his own research on electronic radiation source alternatives to radionuclide-based well logging sources, a topic he pursued during a 37-year R&D tenure spanning Chevron, Sandia National Laboratories, and Schlumberger-Doll Research, and teaching at University of California, Berkeley. In 2015, he led USDOE’s scoping study on alternatives to radionuclide-based logging technologies. He has been a primary industry discussant on the topic through his research including a patent on an alternative technique, presentations at various forums, and leadership of SPWLA’s Nuclear Logging SIG. He was instrumental in developing Chevron’s in-house Radioactive Source Handling Guideline implemented in 2010, helped prepare International Atomic Energy Agency’s draft logging source safety guide currently under review, revised Vienna-based WINS’ Best Practice Guide on security of these sources in 2016, and was an official reviewer of US National Academy of Sciences’ 2008 report to Congress, “Radiation Source Use and Replacement.” Author of over 40 papers, two US patents, and an upcoming textbook on Nuclear Logging, Ahmed is a Fellow of American Nuclear Society, and was an SPE Distinguished Lecturer, a two-time SPWLA Distinguished Speaker, and winner of multiple SPE and SPWLA awards. He earned a PhD in Nuclear Engineering and Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY in 1979.
SPE Webinars are FREE to members courtesy of the