Asset Integrity Management in Today's UK Industry
Over the last four years, the oil and gas industry has spent more than £4 billion on asset integrity management as it strives to meet the government's 10-year targets and act upon the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE's) latest recommendations.
This investment is just the latest contribution to ongoing efforts to improve health and safety, however.
"Over the last 21 years the industry has made huge progress in putting in place multiple barriers on its offshore installations to prevent escalation of dangerous occurrences and to reduce their impact," confirmed Robert Paterson, Oil and Gas UK's health and safety director.
Since the July 6th 1988 disaster claimed the lives of 167 people, the sector has worked hard to improve safety, continually reviewing practises and changing procedures. The third instalment in this three-part series looks at where the industry stands today in terms of asset integrity management. Read part one and part two.
Oil and Gas UK report
In April this year, Oil and Gas UK released a report responding to the HSE's 2007 report on asset integrity management. It drew on advice received from operating companies, supported by independent verifiers additional cross checks undertaken by a specialist in asset integrity management.
The report found that management system compliance had increased from 60 to 80 percent in two years, while physical state of plant compliance improved from 40 percent to over 70 percent.
There were 1 percent and 4 percent "red light" findings for the two areas, respectively, and the report said that these issues were being actively managed with the aim of resolving them by the summer of 2009.
Oil and Gas UK said that management knowledge, understanding, awareness, oversight and engagement on asset integrity management and process safety had improved from board level down.
The organisation pointed to the success of a workshop on asset integrity management, which had been recognised as worldwide best practice for engaging industry stakeholders.
Performance monitoring had also improved, with business leaders being better informed and equipped to act on any information received, according to the report.
In addition, sharing of expertise and knowledge was more widespread and had led to a reduction in the variation between assets, Oil and Gas UK said.
The British industry has also been passing on its experience in asset integrity management, according to the report, which highlighted that over 1,000 copies of the lessons from Piper Alpha DVD, produced by Oil and Gas UK in 2008, have been distributed worldwide.
HSE Review of Asset Integrity Management
Subsequent to that report, the HSE released a review of the KP3 Programme in July 2009, on the request of the secretary of state for work and pensions.
The report invited submissions from various industry stakeholders, including trade associations such as Oil and Gas UK—whose progress report detailed above formed a key part of the HSE review—and trade union organisations representing the views of workers.
Inspection reports and case studies reflected Oil and Gas UK's assessment of process safety and asset integrity management systems. Results from these showed that significant work has been undertaken to improve these procedures, particularly in operational risk assessments and deferral management.
The case studies revealed that processes had been put in place to ensure that suitable risk assessments were carried out in a timely manner, improving asset integrity management.
There had also been increased recognition throughout the industry that deferring maintenance of safety-critical elements (SCEs) and degraded SCEs can impact adversely on major accident barriers, the report found.
Improvements in Hydrocarbon Releases
However, the authors were concerned about a lack of progress in cutting down hydrocarbon releases, finding that the trend for steady reduction had not continued between 2005 and 2006, while from 2006 to 2008 there had been no improvement.
The report acknowledged that there had been a reduction in hydrocarbon releases during 2008 and 2009, but stressed that this was an area of asset integrity management which required increased effort.
In September, the HSE revealed at the Offshore Europe conference in Aberdeen that the number of major and significant hydrocarbon releases fell by 17.5 percent in 2008/09, which is the lowest figure on record.
Paterson welcomed the news on behalf of Oil and Gas UK, saying: "We are resolved to keep full focus on this important issue throughout the life cycle of the industry, irrespective of the prevailing economic climate.
"We are in a fundamentally different place today," he added. "However, we recognise that we can never be complacent with regard to the safety of our workforce."