Ensuring preparedness - Aera Energy
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Aera At Work, Featured Sep 16, 2021

Ensuring preparedness

Ali Zauner, manager of operations for Aera’s San Ardo and Coalinga fields, meets with members of Aera’s incident command team during a recent emergency-preparedness drill in San Ardo.

Ali Zauner, manager of operations for Aera’s San Ardo and Coalinga fields, meets with members of Aera’s incident command team during a recent emergency-preparedness drill in San Ardo.

Aera emergency-response drills keep team and local agencies ready, if needed.

Emergency preparedness at Aera Energy involves so much more than written-response plans. It means putting those plans into action through exercises, sometimes multiple times a year at differently locations, to ensure the plans are comprehensive and that our teams are ready to respond if a real incident were to occur.

As part of a recent drill at Aera’s operations in San Ardo, Aera’s emergency-response team practiced using a scenario where there was a leak in a flow line that was detected during a routine-maintenance inspection. About 25 Aera employees were immediately notified and mobilized a mock response.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) also participated in the mock response, with OSPR representatives participating via video and conference calls to comply with their COVID-19 guidelines. Together, Aera and OSPR successfully executed San Ardo’s emergency-response drill.

In other years, agencies such as county environmental health departments, Environmental Protection Agency, United States Coast Guard, California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) and local law enforcement and fire department officials have participated as part of Aera’s multi-agency response drills.

“We have a multitude of preventative measures in place but ultimately our goal is to never have an incident. But we do need to be response ready, and these drills ensure we don’t leave that to chance.”

– Chris Miller, Aera emergency response specialist

“We are committed to being responsible neighbors in the communities where we live and raise our families,” said Chris Miller, an Aera emergency response specialist. “We protect the environment and health and safety of the citizens around our locations whether it relates to water, air or wildlife habitat. These annual preparedness drills help us accomplish that mission.”

Aera goes beyond what is required by state and federal regulations when it comes to emergency-response drills. Employees are given an opportunity to practice their skills using real-life scenarios during in-person exercises, rather than limiting the drills to response training presented in a book or online. With each drill, the response scenarios are new and experienced employees are paired with employees who are new to emergency-response roles so they can share tips, tools, knowledge, and techniques.

Chris Miller (left), an Aera emergency response specialist, holds up two phones for a video call as Albert Madrid (right), a San Ardo subsurface specialist, reviews response plans with representatives from California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response, who took part in the drill remotely.

Chris Miller (left), an Aera emergency response specialist, holds up two phones for a video call as Albert Madrid (right), a San Ardo subsurface specialist, reviews response plans with representatives from California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response, who took part in the drill remotely.

The multi-agency response is key when it comes to practicing for any emergency. After each drill, participants conduct a full debrief, allowing everyone to review the actions they took, acknowledge what worked well and identify opportunities for improvement.

“When outside agencies participate in our drills, they arrive with a high level of confidence that we know what we are doing. It also gives us an opportunity to get to know individuals and practice working with the agencies we would be working with in a real incident response,” Miller said.\

Additional practice drills are scheduled at Aera’s Ventura and Belridge fields in September and October.

“We have a multitude of preventative measures in place but ultimately our goal is to never have an incident,” Miller said. “But we do need to be response ready, and these drills ensure we don’t leave that to chance.”

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We live our safety motto that “Every day, everybody goes home alive and well!” / DID YOU KNOW? Aera Energy has been honored with the North American Maintenance Excellence Award and the AME Manufacturing Excellence Award.

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