DNV GL, in collaboration with Decom North Sea (DNS), is seeking industry partners to participate in a joint industry project (JIP). The project will develop industry guidance to assist in effective and cost-efficient major accident hazard management for installations during late-life and end of life operations. It will also facilitate Safety Case compliance through cessation of production, well plug and abandonment, decommissioning, dismantlement and removal.

Whilst there is considerable experience, guidance and clarity on managing major accident hazards during the operational life of an installation, there is relatively little knowledge on effective risk management for the late life phases, leading into cessation of production, through to final installation removal. This period can extend for many years, it can include step changes in major accident hazards risk and has considerable uncertainty.

Image courtesy: DVN GL

Offshore operators need to plan for the end of life phase and be prepared to modify their existing risk management system so that it remains effective as the installation moves towards cessation of production, decommissioning and subsequent removal. The operator must demonstrate continued legal compliance with the Offshore Safety Case Regulations (OSCR), through all end of life activities, up until the installation has been removed. This includes demonstration that major safety and environmental accident hazards are adequately understood, that appropriate measures are in place to manage those hazards, and that these measures are being suitably maintained.

The challenge of continuing risk management through the late-life operation of an installation and into the post-cessation of production stages must be accomplished on ageing facilities in a very cost-conscious environment. The risks from major accident hazards change considerably during this period as the hydrocarbon production risks reduce and the risks associated with decommissioning, well plugging and abandonment, and structural dismantlement are introduced, and environmental impact risk increases.

The JIP is in response to an industry request and reflects the importance of maintaining effective management of major accident hazards and legal compliance during the end of life phases of an installation. It also addresses the cost and effort required to deliver this; the recent significant revision of OSCR; and the lack of documented experience and practices.

The JIP will bring together key stakeholders including installation operators, supply chain organizations and regulators to develop a common understanding of the issues and current approaches. It will develop good practice guidance for effective and cost efficient major accident hazard management and OSCR compliance during the end of life phases of all installation types.

Hamish Holt, JIP Project Manager says: “The JIP will capture, challenge and develop the current experience and knowledge within the offshore oil and gas, heavy lift and deconstruction industries as well as input from relevant regulators and DNV GL. We will create guidance that will promote an effective, robust and cost-conscious approach to management of major accident hazards during the end of life phases of an installation. This should reduce the potential for over or under-managed major accident hazards and also reduce the risk from program delays due to compliance issues.”

Hamish continues: “An advantage of developing industry guidance within a JIP is that participants have the opportunity, outside a specific project or organization-to-organization reporting line, to discuss with other parties: issues, concerns, situations, opportunities, and ideas for improvement. This allows open discussion on potentially contentious or radical approaches, without endangering reputation or regulatory relationships.”

Participants of the JIP will be able to learn from others, share experiences, explore opportunities to reduce costs, and help shape fit-for purpose risk management and Safety Case compliance guidance.

This JIP should be of interest to:

· Oil and gas installation operators/duty holders
· Decommissioning/dismantlement turnkey contractors
· Heavy lift vessel operators
· HSE, DECC, MCA and other relevant regulators and authorities

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