Important Elements of Operating Manuals and Procedures in the Oil and Gas Industry

Important Elements of Operating Manuals and Procedures in the Oil and Gas Industry

The Oil and Gas Operation Manual and Procedure is a collection of requirements for the permit holders. It outlines the regulations and guidance for operation, construction, deactivation, and restoration of oil and gas and related activities.

Oil and Gas companies need to ensure the employees and the company has proper documentation of requirements and designated processes. This is crucial for safety, regulatory compliance, and the future of the company. However, the operational manuals and procedure documentation can be both challenging and time-consuming.

The oil and gas industry’s operational manuals and procedures are difficult and require complete teamwork.

The oil industry professionals with expert knowledge of the work, processes, and regulations get together and formulate documents (forms, guides, definitions, and procedures) which aids in developing and submitting the required information. Such manuals are typically divided into chapters that each provide the necessary activity information. Additional manuals such as the Permit Operations and Administration Manual are also provided. These manuals contain additional information based on technical guidelines for relevant support where necessary.

However, these manuals do not take the place of the applicable legislation. For such permits, companies refer to the regulations governing their operations and seek assistance from Commission staff when needed.

The goal is to demonstrate the repeatability, accuracy, and validity of your measurements. You must also be able to demonstrate how you arrived at the measurements, the tools used, and the qualifications of those who provided the measurements. Additional chapters in the SOP manuals will address whether your company or operation measures natural gas or liquids. For example, in gas measurement, orifice meters are used, and in liquid measurement, LACT/ACT units are used.

Improved productivity helps the bottom line. Whether performing routine maintenance on a single piece of equipment or executing a full-plant shutdown, completing standard work right the first time, can be the difference between returning to production on time and incurring costly production delays.

Good operating procedures tell your workers how to perform tasks the best way. They eliminate unnecessary steps, movements, and equipment, allowing tasks to be completed with confidence. Without effective procedures, workers may spend time and effort performing pointless steps and questioning if the published document in front of them should be trusted.

Operational Manual and Procedures Must Have

To be effective, the oil and gas operational manuals and procedures have to be written clearly and accurately. They should even keep a balance between being readable and to the point as well as sufficiently detailed; and answering all the concerns of employees and the company effectively.

The following elements are important in providing the required document:

1 – Every Requirement Should be Clear and Specific

Oil and gas industries more than any other industry are multi-tiered which include various departments both technical and non-technical and different contractors and sub-contractors. This mixed environment brings in unique responsibilities and experiences making it challenging to create a manual that will apply equally to a variety of teams. Requirements created by one team can be vague for the other and misunderstood at the same time.

Such challenges can introduce uncertainty, mistakes, and potentially wrong information. To avoid such issues, the oil and gas requirements must be clear and specific, leaving no room for interpretation. The final check after the completion is also a part of the manual writing standards.

2 – The Information Should be Absolute and Timely

To make the requirements fully useful to those in the oil and gas industry, the information has to be clear and complete. These manuals, for instance, are used by management to fill in for an employee or a contractor in a specific role. In case of incomplete requirements, the designated employee will not understand his role and the management will perceive it as a skill gap.

Oil and gas requirements can also suffer from being outdated owing to the long history of the industry. Thus, parroting requirements from the old documents can add to the risk of applying inaccurate processes. The final check should include checking for the latest developments and standards in the oil and gas industry and rereading during the hiring process, budgeting, and planning.

3 – Oil and Gas Industry Knowledge is not Common Knowledge

This industry is based on a very high level of specialization and roles that require technical knowledge. Most areas of the oil and gas industry use internal procedures, requirements, and standards (such as ISO 29001) which have their own understood knowledge and procedures. With segmented teams, contractors, and sub-contractors it is not clear who will be reading the manual and the problem is exacerbated here.

The manual should have spelled out acronyms and defined terms. The terms, abbreviations, and acronyms should be as per the relevant guidelines, like the Document Format and Style Manual from the American Petroleum Institute. The manual should ensure the same terms are used consistently and the document is written in a way that is likely to be understood by the reader.

4 – Refer to the Local Region Specifications

Some of the oil and gas companies in this sector have to go through a standardized process based on the regulations of the city, province, or even federal government. The manuals should be developed in accordance with the local jurisdiction to ensure that mandatory regulatory issues are addressed and integrated.

5 – Write with Readers Point of View

As noted, workers in the oil and gas industry are fairly specialized, highly trained, and very technical in their understanding. As a result, there will always be someone who knows more than you, and others who do not know enough. Since this hubris is risky and a mixture of various teams, it’s certain that the manual was created to address everyone equally. Knowing the audience is crucial as always and for a complete and accurate oil and gas industry manual, it is important to do adequate research, use active voice, pointed action words, or imperatives.

Along with quality requirements, functional specifications, safety requirements, and industry standards, there are many more with which the employees work. The operational manual & procedures should be written according to the core requirements & specifications. Lastly, the manual should be circulated to all the field experts for proofreading purposes.


Operating procedures are step-by-step instructions for performing a work task, such as starting or stopping a piece of equipment. They can also narrate how to respond to an incident, perform maintenance, or complete a routine facility process function. Most energy companies have some kind of operating procedures in place, but they are not always effective. If the oil and gas industry’s operational manuals and procedures are unclear, the project itself will suffer. So, before you throw in the towel, step back and rethink your goals. What may seem plausible during the planning stage, might be unrealistic in reality. The reasons can vary. Perhaps some unforeseen obstacles can come up, adding up to project delays and affecting direct & indirect costs; in such cases, operational manuals and procedures can become handy and rescue the entire company. Keep a keen eye on the past mistakes, consult the manuals, adjust requirements, and follow implementation procedures for successful oil and gas industry projects.

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