Root Cause Analysis: Defined

Abdulaziz O. Al-Ajaji, ID/OID/Inspection Engineering, Saudi Armco, speaks with Oil and Gas IQ on asset integrity management and root cause analysis.

Please give some background about your company. What is your role, and what does it entail?


My company, Saudi Aramco, is the largest oil producing company in the world. We are in the business of producing oil and gas to the world so that people will enjoy life to the fullest; therefore, we are in the business of making people happy and keeping machine turning so smiles are kept appearing on people’s faces.

Describe root cause analysis (RCA).

Root cause analysis (RCA) is the process of identifying the actual and real cause of a problem and/or failure. Once the root cause is identified, it can be illuminated so similar problems and/or failures won’t appear again.

How can RCA prevent recurring failures?

RCA identifies the real cause of a problem and/or failure to be illuminated; therefore, recurring of failures is prevented.

What are failure causes, and why is it important to analyze them?

Failures can be caused by many reasons such as people (skills, competency, ignorance, complacency, mistakes, etc.), tools, machines, design, construction, aging, lack of inspection, lack of maintenance, process, etc. It is important to analyze them in order to identify them and then illuminate them.

Please provide some best practices to implement an Asset Integrity Program.

RBI, Asset Integrity Assurance Program, well written standards, specifications and procedures, inspection programs at the facilities and monitoring/auditing programs at the headquarter.

What are some ways to improve safety conditions?

  • Creating a safety culture in the corporation
  • Developing and implementing a safety management system
  • Performing regular risk assessments in the facilities
  • Non-stop of safety awareness campaigns

How can we improve inspection and monitoring to protect oil and gas and petrochemical assets?

  • Establish the proper and needed inspection and monitoring programs
  • Establish the proper and needed technical documents (Standards, specs, procedures, manuals, check lists, etc.
  • Enhance competencies of all inspectors and monitors
  • Continuous improvements of inspection and monitoring programs
  • Utilize new technologies

Interview by Jessica Livingston.