The hazards of oil and gas facilities are well known to the league of operators, hardware providers, designers and lieges of contractors and consultants who work supporting the industry. Since Piper Alpha in 1988 safety is and has been a priority and the driver of countless modifications to ensure the well being of personnel in operating environments.
The oil and gas industry overall has shown a declining trend in fatalities and injury rates around the world demonstrating that learnings from mistakes have been taken on board so that they are not to be repeated. With the advent of deepwater production, bigger equipment items, changing field conditions and extended field lives, the financial rewards have become potentially even greater than ever to the industry, but at what risk?
The drivers are changing just like in the Le Mans 24 hour car race, the impact of safety risk is less prevalent as people are removed and other risks comes to the fore.
This paper discusses some of the issues that Granherne and the author has experienced in its provision of safety services to the oil and gas industry and provides an insight into how safety principles can still be focused even without the people present.
Before looking at some of the observed trends and risk challenges in the oil and gas industry it is important to ensure that some key definitions are understood.
Risk Trends and Challenges for Today's Industry
The following describes observed risk trends in the oil and gas industry that Granherne and the author have seen through consulting. Each risk trend is identified and key issues highlighted in order to promote discussion of some current and anticipated future issues.
Safety in Design
Designing a facility that is functional efficient and safe at reasonable cost has always been at the heart of the design process. Designers have always been aware of accidents at other facilities and have endeavoured to incorporate these learning's to ensure that the same accident does not happen again. It has been important since the advent of the Safety Case in Australia in 1995 that these learnings should always be incorporated into other operations. This philosophy is highlighted in both the Australian onshore Major Hazard Facility guidelines (Ref. NOHSC, 2002) and National Offshore Petroleum Safety Authority guidelines (Ref. NOPSA, 2004). This is also one of the key principles in the United Kingdoms HSE assessment for offshore facilities (Ref. UKHSE, 2006).