DNV GL Revisits Offshore Oil & Gas Risks

By George Backwell
Friday, August 15, 2014
Rig spindle valve release: Photo courtesy of DNV GL

In the first issue its 'Perspectives' online magazine DNV GL’s Graham Bennett points out that the Macondo incident has cast a spotlight on well control standards and the need for more consistency in training.

Offshore oil and gas activities are not, by nature, inherently safe. They involve handling large amounts of pressurised hydrocarbons and other produced fluids and gases. The industry has been improving its process safety performance ever since the Piper Alpha platform incident, in which 167 men died in 1988, but it still has far to go in effectively managing major hazard risks.

Many elements behind the fire, fatalities and massive oil spill from the Macondo field in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 had been seen before. Decision-making for Transocean’s Deepwater Horizon rig was excessively compartmentalised while drilling the Macondo well. Individuals made critical decisions without fully appreciating how essential these choices were for well integrity and worker safety. During the immediate postblowout response, many rig systems and processes failed to respond correctly as the incident escalated.

Industry has much to learn
DNV GL believes the industry can still learn much from Macondo. There have been too many major hazard incidents over the last 25 years: Macondo, Montara and Piper Alpha offshore, and Texas City onshore. Lessons are not being embedded into a risk management culture as much as we would like. Decisions needed for long-term management of risks are often replaced by shorter-term decisions on profitability.

The industry has done well to improve occupational safety performance. This contrasts with a lower profile for, and reporting of, process safety issues. Compared with occupational safety, understanding of process safety differs within companies.

Operations and maintenance people dealing regularly with incidents understand them well and know the importance of barriers to prevent them. But the people who routinely make decisions on investments in training and competence have less experience about contributors to major hazard issues. When we talk to senior management about the potential for, or the impact of, a major hazard event such as fire, blowout or gas explosion, they have not all had that experience. This makes it harder for them to picture and understand the situation.

Safety culture starts in the boardroom. Companies that pioneer in this area show greater board level leadership on major hazard issues, which is to be commended. Many oil and gas companies now send senior management teams for hazard awareness training at DNV GL’s Spadeadam Test Site to see, hear, and feel the potential impact of a major incident. We routinely work with our customers to increase understanding of key levers for success in improving process safety performance.

Regulatory responses
Regulatory responses to process safety vary globally. North Sea nations such as the UK, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands deal with operations in relatively harsh environments. They have a good understanding of process safety and have been much quicker to react to lessons from Piper Alpha. Consequently, a risk-based approach to legislation characterises the North Sea Basin, and is seen today as a global best practice.

Australia adopted a risk-based approach several years ago. It has worked well. The US regime, for reasons including the legislative environment, has been more focused on prescriptive rules and legislation.

Prescriptive regimes are relatively easy to implement and monitor, but less effective at preventing new types of accidents that may happen in the future and are not anticipated by existing rules.

The risk-based approach, which has encouraged many operators to go further than local regulations require, has reduced risks while controlling costs. Some countries in Asia Pacific, Africa and the Middle East are yet to develop this approach. They are still formulating regulatory regimes as their hydrocarbon industries develop. However, major operators that have moved into these areas have introduced best practices from the North Sea.

We believe that the most effective offshore safety regime deploys performance-based regulation requiring major hazard reports, including risk assessments and independent verification, and is supplemented by required or recommended specific prescriptive regulation for selected areas. This view is supported by the new European Union Offshore Safety Directive (Directive 2013/30/EU).

Source: DNV GL Perspectives no 1 2014

(Graham Bennett is DNV GL’s VP and business development manager for UK and Southern Africa.)



 

Maritime Reporter May 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

2 Americans Rescued North of Cuba

A Coast Guard MH-60 helicopter crew rescued two American sailors whose vessel ran aground approximately 25 miles north of Gibara, Cuba, Friday. Watchstanders

Shell CEO Backs Fossil Fuels, Climate Change Warnings

The world's fossil fuel reserves cannot be burned unless some way is found to capture their carbon emissions, Royal Dutch Shell Plc Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden said on Friday.

Severe Flooding Cuts Off Lone Road to Alaska's Oilfield

Alaska's lone road to North Slope oil field operations remains closed for the third time in two months while emergency crews continue to redirect flooding from an adjacent river,

Education/Training

USCG Tall Ship Sailing to the Bahamas

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle is scheduled to arrive at Berth 14 at Prince George Wharf in Nassau, Bahamas on Thursday, May 28 as part of its 2015 cadet summer training deployment.

Volume Up in Dutch Maritime Technology Sector

The Dutch maritime technology sector has had a good year. Turnover increased by 17%, from EUR 6.4 billion in 2013 to EUR 7.5 billion in 2014. The sector employed 31,680 FTEs, up from 29,361 in 2013.

European Ports Identify Their Priorities

European ports are real “multitaskers”: they combine different functions ranging from gateway to the world, nodes in the transport chain, hotspots for Europe’s industrial activity,

Energy

Shell CEO Backs Fossil Fuels, Climate Change Warnings

The world's fossil fuel reserves cannot be burned unless some way is found to capture their carbon emissions, Royal Dutch Shell Plc Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden said on Friday.

Pipeline Spill Could Hamper California Oil Projects

Hundreds of barrels of oil that gushed from a ruptured coastal pipeline in scenic California this week could stiffen opposition to large oil projects that companies want to build in the state,

U.S. Senators Urge Obama to Block Arctic Oil Drilling

A group of 18 mostly Democratic U.S. senators on Friday urged the Obama administration to stop Royal Dutch Shell's preparations for oil exploration in the Arctic,

Maritime Safety

2 Americans Rescued North of Cuba

A Coast Guard MH-60 helicopter crew rescued two American sailors whose vessel ran aground approximately 25 miles north of Gibara, Cuba, Friday. Watchstanders

Seaway to Receive Prestigious OECD Award

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) announced today that it will receive a prestigious award from the Organization for Economic Cooperation

Russian, Azerbaijani Navy to Hold First Ever Joint Drills in Caspian Sea

About 10 Russian and Azerbaijani ships will take part in a joint naval exercise in the Caspian Sea for the first time; RIA Novosti cited the statement of Russia’s Southern Military District.

Classification Societies

Registration for SHIPPINGInsight 2015 Now Open

Online registration is now open for the SHIPPINGInsight 2015 Fleet Optimization Conference & Exhibition.   Now entering its fourth year, SHIPPINGInsight is an

LR Establishes Applied Technology Group

Lloyd’s Register establishes the Applied Technology Group, centered around the activities of Martec Limited   The Applied Technology Group (ATG) describes is

IRClass is 40

IRClass, a leading Class Society in Asia has successfully completed 40 years in the service of Maritime industry. With the growth in India’s international trade,

Underwater Engineering

U.S. Senators Urge Obama to Block Arctic Oil Drilling

A group of 18 mostly Democratic U.S. senators on Friday urged the Obama administration to stop Royal Dutch Shell's preparations for oil exploration in the Arctic,

Mobil Says Oil Discovery off Guyana is 'Significant'

Unlike almost all its neighbors, Guyana isn’t an oil producer yet. But the energy giant Exxon Mobil recently announced it had discovered “significant” oil off the coast.

Unmanned FLNG: ‘The Future of LNG Technology’

DNV GL has developed a new unmanned floating LNG concept that it says overcomes many of the challenges currently faced by those looking to unlock the potential of remote offshore gas fields.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Security Navigation Pipelines Pod Propulsion Salvage Ship Repair Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.3478 sec (3 req/sec)