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The global energy industry is facing unprecedented challenges, from meeting the need to offset declining oil and gas reserves with sustainable energy sources to addressing societal expectations for cleaner and more refined products that meet safety and environmental standards. At the same time, oil companies and their suppliers are seeking operational improvements that will optimize process efficiency, safety and profitability.

Against this backdrop, SGS Oil, Gas and Chemicals (OGC) France has set about identifying innovative concepts aimed at reducing the human, environmental and financial impact of fuel sampling management across the value chain. Deploying its “CSR by Design” approach to service and process innovation, in January 2019, SGS OGC France tasked a working group with the mission to optimize volumes when sampling petroleum product samples for analysis. The working group, comprising employees, a supplier, and SGS fuel retail services clients, was tasked, over two days, to design a project that would deliver three defined outcomes:

  1. Reduce the risk to people involved in handling and transporting hazardous samples while also reducing associated environmental impacts
  2. Reduce the laboratory storage area for samples kept in custody
  3. Reduce waste management and disposal costs

The task involved a collaboration between SGS and its fuel retail services client, SIPLEC, to optimize sampling volumes associated with the 45,000 checks carried out each year across SIPLEC’s value chain. SIPLEC is France’s second largest fuel distributor and the country’s leading fuel retailer, with 39 petroleum depots.

Work began with a review of the collection volumes required for each of SIPLEC’s IPU/analysis schemes, the recommended sampling quantities specified in price lists and the contractual obligations related to sampling volumes. The project identified an opportunity to reduce sampling volumes by 30%, resulting in multiple cost savings from, for example, reduced levies, lower equipment costs (such as from the use of 250 ml bottles rather than 500 ml or 1 liter sampling containers), less storage space required in labs and reduced waste disposal costs. In addition to creating financial savings, the project would also optimize safety through a reduction in the volume of samples handled by SGS employees.

To support these process improvements, the project highlighted the need to promote the concept of change management internally, raise awareness of responsible purchasing of equipment and enhance digitalization to ensure accurate measurement of performance indicators along the sampling value chain.

SGS has implemented this project across all locations in France. The working group has met every two weeks through September 2019 to monitor progress. We aim to review the effectiveness of these changes in 2020. We are also sharing the concept with SGS affiliates in other European countries, who are interested in how our project is helping to reduce the human, environmental and financial impacts of sampling management across the value chain.

CSR by design