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Topic 9: Safety and risk management in oil and gas industry

Henry Tan's picture

Safety Engineering and Risk Management Debate 2012


Discussion Topic 9: Safety and risk management in oil and gas industry


michael saiki's picture


HSE " Success in managing major Hazards is not measured by the Occupational Health and Safety Statistics but by measuring the performance of critical systems used to control risks to ensure they are operating as intended.

This statement is a very powerful statement and i want to stand on the premise that it should form the basis of assessing and formulating regulation regimes.

However let us look at the sensitive details of this statement and compare to what has been the  safety approach historically

Safety Statistics-  HSE says whatever models we have as a measure of success in safety appraoch it should not be based on whether an accident eventually occured or not or how many times it occured but on the measurment systems predefined. but if we look at the the history of safety regulation and Legistion from the First known safety Legislation in 1862 the incident of the beam of a pumping Engine at Hartley Colliery in Northumberland land which broke the only mineshaft and means of ventillation, 204 miners suffocated and died. that gave birth to mining Legislation two years later that required every seam in a mine to have two shafts or outlets to the present goal getting (Safety Case) Regime, which is as a result of the piper Alpha incident, it is historically obvious that the only reason why regulators feel that there is a need for reviev is after a major disaster.

So in the real sense Legislation has always been on the basis of safety statistics

Measuring the performance of critical control systems : If I try to understand what this means it tries to say that Safety process and systems should adopt PROACTIVE Measures rather reactive measures. In other words we should be able to estimate the lets says probabilisticaly to effectiveness of the system even before any incident is likely to occur.

This brings us to my main Point if we need to determine the performance of a safety systems proactively and every single Legislation/Regulation approach in history has always been a reactive approach then the Premise upon which the safety Regime has been built though has been quite effective is yet faulty and requires urgent reviews. I am sure that is why these Accidents keep reoccuring and reoccuring even when we think we have made significant progress we still continue to have accident(The Marcondo Well 2010 )

Michael Saiki

Adekola Obayomi's picture


In addition to Michael Saiki's point on our current reactive measures to safety instead of a proactive one, here are some of the accidents that have occurred and how they continue to show our reactive attitude to safety in the industry.

March 28, 1980, Alexander Keilland capsized and sank off the coast of Norway in the North Sea killing 123 people. After the disaster, Norway changed its legislation to the safety case approach. [1] [2].

February 15, 1982, Ocean Ranger capsized and sank off the coast of Newfoundland in the Canadian waters killing 84 crew members on board. Nobody on the rig survived the accident.  Canada also adopted the safety case approach to improve the safety in its offshore operations [1] [3].

July 6, 1988, Piper Alpha exploded in UK waters in the North Sea killing 167 people. The Piper Alpha disaster was the worst offshore disaster in terms of death toll and its impact on the offshore oil industry. After this disaster, the UK also overhauled its offshore industry and came up with its Offshore Installations Safety Case Regulations [1] [4].

However, not until the recent Deepwater horizon oil spill disaster which occurred on April 20, 2010, the safety legislation in the US has not been reviewed to adopt a mandatory safety case approach instead of the prescriptive approach currently been used [1].

How many more human lives are we going to sacrifice before the regulators and operators alike adopt a more proactive approach?


Kwadwo Boateng Aniagyei's picture

Michael has
said it right. Though the HSE regulations have been so far appreciably effective,
they are somewhat more reactive than proactive. Over the years it has been obviously
known that there is a need for a step to step procedure in achieving an effective
proactive HSE culture. Many efforts towards this have shown that it will also
take personal commitment and self-responsibility on the part of the HSE
regulators as well as operators to achieve this. The Reactive HSE Culture is
concerned with ‘what went wrong?’ In other words, any improvement in HSE
performance is only due to learning from incidents after they occurred. This is
still a common approach worldwide despite evidence that with this model it is
not possible to achieve continuous HSE performance improvement. The main challenge
here is with the reporting and monitoring processes. Reporting tools provide
data only after accidents have occurred. These accidents may be health, safety,
security and/or environment. The reportage of these incidents are mostly classified
as ‘accidents’ and ‘near-misses’. However, because the significant potential of
the near-misses can be hardly realized, it is not reported properly and this
can translate into undesired consequences. 
To have safe oil and gas productions, it is expedient that HSE regulations
become as proactive as possible and shouldn’t wait for the occurrence of an accident
to revive or review regulations, just like the case of the piper alpha incident.



oseghale lucas okohue's picture

In addition to the on going discussion we will observe that safety in the oil and gas industry has never been taken to heart till on the 27th December 1965 when the Sea Gem Sanked and 13 lives were lost. The major routine before this incident was just to collect a licence from the then government and start exploring and exploiting this mineral resource from the seabed without knowledge of the implications to Health, Safety and the Evironment. No measures was put in place until a woke up call of the 27th December incident of 1965.


Learning from this, its obvious that this era’s were practically reactive in their  approach to safety. A little further into the early 80’s  on February 15, 1982, Ocean Ranger capsized and sank off the coast of Newfoundland in the Canadian waters killing 84 crew members on board. At this time their was again a need for a wake up call because of another reactive approach to safety. 

It will be taught that a lot of lessons should have been learnt from all this reactive approach pertaining to the oil and gas safety measures and their  have been a mitigation plan in place to stop reoccurrence. But instead it was another blow on April 20, 2010  the Deepwater horizon oil spill disaster.



 The Deepwater horizon oil spill disaster of April 20, 2010 .  Now the question here is that: 1.    Why is it that the incident is allowed to happen or occur before we start thinking of solution .2.    Are we really learning from the lessons or we are just busy documenting for record purposes. 

I called this approach a reactive one. A proactive approach should be in place if there is no one available or it should be improved than its current state or measures. It should involve ways of identifying the following:


       1. Stringent assessment of environmental impacts;         2. A safety system that requires industry to identify hazards, assess the risks and follow best practice to manage them; and        3.Comprehensive emergency response framework. At the same time, their should be a  review panel highlighting the importance of continuous improvement and the scope for raising standards through:       1. strengthening mechanisms to assure implementation of safety and environmental management systems;

       2. improving the learning culture and processes for spreading best practice;

       3. greater integration between the regulatory authorities;        4. a clearer command and control structure in the event of a spill;        5. robust arrangements to ensure operators’ level of liability and ability to pay in the event of a spill; and

       6. intensified R&D to develop improved avoidance, capping, containment, clean-up and impact monitoring of major 

         offshore oil spill incidents.  

 Proactive intergrity management approach to Safety and Risk measures  will be the only way safety of the oil and gas industries can be most guaranteed in the nearest future as against reactive approach. Or else we will be learning again.......



Babawale Onagbola's picture

I see the comments about a reactive vs proactive approach in the offshore oil industry but I hate to break it to you that it is not likely that we will move to a more proactive approach anytime soon. I think regulators and Oil majors would definitely tell us what we want to hear but in principle, it is not likely that anything would change. THE PROACTIVE APPROACH STARTS WITH THE REGULATORS. I will take the Deep water horizon accident for example. We know that on offshore installations, blowout preventers (containing powerful shear rams designed to cut through the drilling rigs’ steel pipe and shut off a well that has gone out of control) are installed to provide redundancy if all else fails. In 2001, the Minerals Management service, commissioned a study that revealed over 100 failures in the testing of blow out preventers and were advised by experts to enforce the operation of TWO SHEAR ARMS in blow out preventers for all offshore installations. . Historically as with enforcement agencies (The Energy department ignored recommendations to apply offshore, the CIMAH regulations already in place onshore in 1975, and we know how their ignorance paid off) they ignored the advice and one wonders if this second shear ram was present, maybe, just maybe the deep water horizon accident would have been avoided. Controversial reports alleged that the Mineral Management service neglected to enforce a rule that required oil companies to provide evidence periodically showing that their shear rams did in fact work – (New York Times, June, 20, 2010).
What makes it worse is that, the same article in 2010, said that at the time, roughly two-thirds of the rigs in the gulf still had only one shear ram as opposed to TWO as prescribed by experts in 2001. I bet if another survey was carried out today, that fraction would be the same and these companies are still in operation). Correct me if I am wrong but I think the regulators are given a free/lenient pass when an accident occurs and it is the oil companies that fact the wrath of the media, public, and the same regulatory bodies. I think the regulators do not come under enough fire and this is why their lapses are ignored and downplayed. The regulators only react to incidents and accidents instead of being proactive. And finally to answer the question about how many more human lives must be lost…. My answer is more from more accidents until somebody starts to hold regulators more responsible.

Tony Morgan's picture

I totally agree with the theme of this comment.

Who regulates the regulators ?

It is not surprising to learn that many of the regulatory agencies / bodies have very close ties to oil companies or share holdings even but there appears to be a very unclear and uncontrolled policing of the regulators and conflicts of interest aplenty.

Is there any examples of successful regulation ? every example i can think of seems to have failed in a huge way......Banking, Politics, Media/TV/Newspapers....

Medicine and Science seem to do it from within almost and appear at first glance to use the profession to manage the professionals ?

Is education, certification and professional memberships the best means of identifying and nurturing the best attitudes and cultures that will ensure that industries are policed effectively.

The US really uses prescriptive regulation which can result in companies waiting to be caught and punished whereas the UK safety case and PFEER regs push the companies to PROVE their safety and risk management practices. NPD and PSA in Norway employ a similar regime whereby  performance based regulations, standards and processes are applied as frameworks for companies to work within, monitoring their own management systems with auditable assitance obtained or periodically enforced by the agencies eg DNV.

Who does it best ? Does UK/Norway do it best ? The US is now looking at UK/Norway as they seek to make step changes in their command and control structures and regulatory systems.

Should there be GLOBAL regulations ? to protect OUR WORLD and FUTURE ? Is this workable ?

tony morgan

Henry Tan's picture

You may like to attend the SUT event "Macondo - Lessons and implications for the North Sea" on next Wednesday (10 October)  and challenge the speaker.

Andrew Allan's picture

Whilst I agree with some of the points raised in this discussion thread, I would like to highlight one of the many proactive programmes that the UK HSE are currently undertaking to tackle issues identified in the offshore indutry.

Given a large number of the offshore platforms in the North Sea have now exceeded or are close to exceeding their original design life, it is recognised that there is an increased likelihood of equipment and asset integrity failures due to material degradation.  This has the potential to lead to an increase in major accidents if not addressed.

Strategy for KP4 - Ageing and life extension inspection programme 2010 - 2013 [1] is a strategy aimed at promoting awareness of the issues associated with ageing plant in the offshore oil and gas industry.

"The specific objectives of the strategy are:

- to raise awareness within the offshore industry of the need for specific consideration of ageing issues as a distinct activity within the asset integrity management process and, in particular, of the need for senior management to demonstrate leadership on and commitment to this matter;

- to define a programme of inspection of individual duty holder approaches to the management of ageing and life extension to ascertain the extent of compliance with the regulatory requirements;

- to identify shortcomings in duty holder practices on the management of ageing and life extension and enforce an appropriate programme of remedial action;

- to work with the offshore industry to develop a ‘best practice’ common approach to the management of ageing installations and life extension, including the development of long-term plans, for implementation in safety cases and thorough reviews, to ensure the continued safe operation of all ageing offshore installations on the UKCS."[1]

In support of these objectives the Offshore Safety Directorate are actively undertaking inspections, developing standards and conducting further research into the area.

To me this demonstrates an extremely proactive approach to one of the biggest challenges facing the industry over the coming decade.  I encourage you to read the KP4 document referenced below and welcome any further discussion.



Ambrose Ssentongo's picture

Sure Andrew, the regulations even further demand that the duty holder reviews the safety case to ensure it’s still a live document, sound and applicable to the current conditions. This is another example of how proactive the HSE regulations get. For proof of this I quote this from the KP4 strategy that Andrew has touched on in his post; “Regulation 13 of the Offshore Installations (Safety Case) Regulations 2005 (OSCR) requires duty holders to thoroughly review current safety cases within five years of the previous acceptance or review, to confirm that the safety case as a whole continues to be fundamentally sound, and continues to demonstrate the effective identification, management and control of major accident hazard risks on the installation, as described in Paragraph 187-190 of the L30 Guide to OSCR 2005.” And again one of the main aims and objectives of this KP4 strategy on ALE is to identify areas of improvement and further encourage these improvements in ALE management.


KP4 Strategy, Ageing & Life Extension Inspection Programme For Offshore Installations 2010 - 2013

Ambrose Ssentongo

Adejugba Olusola's picture

I agree with Andrew and Ambrose on the proactive approach of the HSE. However, an interesting dimension to the work of the Health & Safety Executive, even though they are the regulators is that they also sponsor research and provide guidance to the industry through research-oriented papers to advance knowledge for the industry, document their concerns especially in particular areas, and present a focus of engagement between the regulators and the industry. Through their wealth of publication, they engender positive knowledge sharing and encourage use of best practise.

Other pro-active measures will have to be by the industry itself. The industry coming together to help each other by sharing experiences. The experiences of most operators are similar in most cases and there are common themes to issues being experienced by operators. The Step Change in Safety is a forum that provides an opportunity for an industry approach to address such topical issues. An example is the production of the Hydrocarbon Release Reduction Toolkit produced by the Step Change in Safety which contains good practice techniques to assist operations in reducing HCRs{1}. The type of Joint Industry solution to topical issues such as happened post Macondo in the UK for example where there was the set up of the Oil Spill Prevention and Response Advisory Group (OSPRAG) to fund and procure a well capping device and enhance the UK’s capability to respond to a major, sustained release of oil.



Adejugba Olusola

Kobina Gyan Budu's picture

These four dimensional risk management parameters, which I
call the necessary evils, are always
in constant interaction in our engineering systems. We need to clearly identify
their roles in everyday operations.

The difficulty of
brings us to Uncertainties
which begin from ‘known unknowns’ to “unknown unknowns". In our industry,
we deal with multi-disciplinary capital intensive facilities/operations which
have many latent hazards. To ensure safety, reliability and to make economic
sense therefore, we need pragmatic and conscientious approach in confronting
these challenges, hence a risk management programme which involves risk and
decision analysis.

In doing risk analysis, probability
models, reliability theories and statistical inference (which considers amongst
others the frequency of occurrence) provide
a practical approach in identifying and quantifying the occurrence of these
uncertainties. These tools look at the likelihood of the uncertainties
occurring (probabilities assessment), how often (frequency) they are likely to occur and the impact of the undesired consequences should the uncertainties
occur/events fail (consequence assessment). Amongst others, some of the tools
that help to analyse these four necessary evils in risk management are the Bow-tie
Analysis model [1] and Swiss Cheese Analysis model [2].


michael saiki's picture

to further strengthen the discussion i would like to say that we cannot say that we have an effective safety management regime if we put the responsibilty of safety solely on the Employers and Industry as is the case in this present Regime.

The implication of this is that the Industry or employers are driven by profit oriented objective and shareholders value chain.

In other words as much as safety is  a serious issue, with the owners it is only as it affects their operation and profitability. especially in the subsea sector where every operation is capital intensive.

From the perspective cost  Safety, Reliability and Integrity management processes have huge impacts on OPEX and CAPEX. and thus every employer seeks to minimize this cost

Therefore, there should be efforts towards redesigning the regulation/legislation regime to something that would would sorth of share responsibility with the State and other stake holders in every safety model developed for offshore/subsea installation and production systems. Especially now that E & P is going offshore

Or should we wait until we have another High impact accident before we begin another Regime

Michael Saiki


After deep water horizon incident, several
researches and measurements had been performed. In UK, Oil Spill Prevention and
Response Advisory Group (OSPRAG) had been organized by industrial personnel
from operators, vendors, and institutions. Purpose was reviewing well integrity
in UK continent shelf and emergency response to oil spill. Technical group evaluate
and review the safety of well design and operation in each field. Well capping
device had been developed for the well control purpose. Emergency response
group review the response system and check whether they have enough material
for use for cleaning operation.   


UK industry co-ordinated its response to the issues arising from the Gulf of
Mexico incident by structuring OSPRAG’s work according to four priorities:

          Preventing the possibility of an
escape of hydrocarbons from a well

          Minimising the length of time and
volume of any escape of well hydrocarbons

          Ensuring effective spill response

          Ensuring sufficient financial
arrangements are in place to cover the response to any spill”

In order to meet their priorities, they are
sharing the best practice and developing new device. Initiation was reactive
but subsequent action would be effective in preventing or minimizing future
incidents. Proactive measures are the best for minimizing catastrophic. But at
the same time reactive measures would be also required for preventing same type
of accident?


[1] Oil Spill Prevention and Response
Advisory Group




Adekola Obayomi's picture

Changhwan, I will like to highlight the point you raised above on Minimising the length of time and
volume of any escape of well hydrocarbons.

At a recent event organised by the Society for Underwater Technology (SUT) titled “Macondo - Lessons and implications for the North Sea”, Brian Kinkead, a Consultant and Lead of the Technical Review Group which produced the OSPRAG capping device, gave a presentation on the development of the OSPRAG cap [1].
During the question and answer session, one of the attendees asked a question on how long will it take between the time an oil spill occurred and when the well capping device will be installed in place on site.  The response from Brain was quite shocking.  He said that based on some estimated calculations, it would take about 6 Weeks to transport, deploy and install the capping device.

Approximately 6 weeks?  That is approximately half the time it took BP to cap the Macondo oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico without any Emergency Response Plan (ERP).  What I will like to highlight here is even though we have an ERP in place, it will still take this long to cap a well in the North Sea.  How many thousands of barrels of oil would have spilled into the sea, how many marine life would have been lost, what extent would this spill have covered, and what will be the cost of cleaning up a spill which has been running for about 6 weeks?

I’m sure cost will be a limiting factor for the response to take that long.  Why don’t we increase the cost and reduce the time in order to save lives and protect our environment.



Trevor Strawbridge's picture

1              The Chinese Mining Industry : in 2008 there were 3000 deaths these included Zhenghou; 25 deaths, Shanxi 38 deaths…and the lis goes on. The underlying issue here appears to be lack of regulations and hence less regard for workers well being before profit. Many of the accidents are attributable to poisonous or volatile gases. Chinese government has blamed illegal production and although safety improvements and procedures are being introduced they are still very often ignored. Until Government can enforce these, the situation is unlikely to improve. The PRC government see the enforcement costly, and difficult due to geographical problems associated with enforcement. For example many of the mines are located in rural areas that are remote and difficult to access. It appears that this growing economy still has a long way to go achieve safety standards that we in Europe are accustomed to. 

2              St Frances dam break 1928 resulting in 450 deaths, and the destruction of the town of Santa Paula. The cause was found to be a result of an ancient geological landslide on the eastern side of the dam. The 1920’s technology was not advanced enough to identify this. The damn collapsed as a result of the full hydrostatic load in the reservoir after a heavy rainfall. Thus exerting excess stress to the eastern side. To put this into perspective; the construction’s foundations were unsuitable on the eastern side of the dam and collapse was certain. The release of the Flood wave said to be in excess of 40m cascaded the town of Santa Paula. During the inquiry there was conflict between the Government departments, the geologists and the design and engineering departments. The hearings in the aftermath  recommended that "the construction and operation of a great dam should never be left to the sole judgment of one man,  

3              Piper Alpha 187 deaths. Lead to radical change in regulations for offshore installations. The incident was said to have been caused by miscommunication during a maintenance operation on a Pressure relief valve. This was said to have been moved from a gas compression module and replaced by a blind flange. The flange was only hand tightened as the operations were said not to restart until later in the day. When they did restart the Valve was missing and the flange was still only hand tight. Ignition was then imminent.  Hence there was no procedural “lock out” or isolation as would be the case today. The Cullen report was issued in the aftermath and a series of recommendations were implemented; including the necessity for Duty Holders to produce a safety case. The introduction of several Statutory instruments were also introduced which regulated the design and construction of offshore installations. Initially this was regulated by the Dept of Energy but nowadays it is policed by the Health & Safety Executive. The report was also critical of Piper Alpha's operator, Occidental, who were found guilty of having inadequate maintenance and safety procedures. But no criminal charges were ever brought against them. Had these safety procedures been implemented and practiced there would have been a strong possibility that more workers could have escaped, but more importantly; the incident may never had occurred.

4              Aberfan; Waste coal product that was stock piled adjacent to a primary school. After a spell of poor whether the waste and deluge had cascaded; as would a normal landslide, and buried the primary school. 116 children and 28 adults were killed. Today we are aware that such a pile would be hazardous but back in 1966 this was not the case. The government appointed Mines Inspectorate were only employed to ensure that the mines themselves were safe. Lord Robens the Chairman of the NCB had been seen to be callas by the public and did not visit the site until his return from holiday. Indeed when ordered to make the site safe he used £150000 from the public donations fund to remove the waste to safe disposal. The following Davies Inquiry had found the NCB responsible for this disaster and the Government had introduced Her Majesty’s inspectorate of mines and quarry’s, along with new legislation. During Tony Blairs reign as Prime Minister the £150,000 was returned to the fund with an apology but no interest was paid. The disaster itself happened very quickly without any prior warning. The timing unfortunately played a key role as the children in the school were all assembled in the main school hall, which was directly in the “line of sight” of the land slide. That day the visibility was said to be 50m but clear at the top of the heap. The previous wet weather had played a big part in releasing the product.  

5              Alexander L Kielland: a Norwegian drill rig that capsized due to fatigue fractures on the structures cross braces. 123 deaths. In 1980 the platform had just completed a campaign at EDDA and was anchored offshore when the weather had seen 40 knot winds with 12m waves. Whist the majority of the 200 workers on board were off duty in the cinema, a loud crack was observed and it transpired that 5 out of 6 of the anchor chains had broke and the platform started to capsize. The list increased during which time the workers had tried to evacuate but experienced major difficulties releasing the life crafts. In fact of the 50 life crafts on board only one was successfully launched. Whilst the evacuation was in progress the final anchor had gave way, and the structure capsized. Investigations found that a small fillet weld to attach a hydrophone bracket to a cross brace was incompletely welded and thus caused a stress point in the cross brace. This had failed causing the bracing to collapse in the attributed storm. It was later found that the design of the platform had not allowed for any redundancy in its structure. Furthermore the evacuation procedures were criticised and the lessons learned from this had been implemented in the OPITO type safety training we know today. Finally the one contribution that may well had been the route cause of the accident, is that the platform was originally built as an accommodation module only and had makeshift modifications applied to it for oil exploration. 

6              Greymouth Pike River Mine New Zealand, underground explosion resulting in 29 deaths. A total of 4 explosions were detected. The cause of the explosions are still unclear but were there is definitive evidence of an abundance of Methane Gas present. The possible safety measures not used in the Pike River Mine were; a "tube bundling" gas measurement system, stocks of food and water, breathing apparatus, and a second entrance. These are mandatory requirements in UK mining but it is still unclear whether this was a key factor in the loss of these lives. The Investigation is still ongoing   

7              Deep Water Horizon / Macondo  Gas blow out. Appears to be failure of safety equipment to function in an emergency resulting in 11 deaths and a catastrophic environmental disaster. Investigation is still ongoing. Latest reports suggest that procedures were not followed and Safety equipment such as blow out preventers were not fully tested before use. The Whitehouse oil spill commission leading the inquiry has collectively blamed Halliburton, Transocean and BP for making time and money savings whist compromising the integrity of the well. Some of the failures in procedures included failure to run cement bond tests , the use of a cement diagnostic tool, ignoring failed pressure tests etc. The committee did not, however, place the blame on any one of these events. More so it concluded with the following statement blaming the management of Macondo “Better management of decision-making processes within BP and other companies, better communication within and between BP and its contractors and effective training of key engineering and rig personnel would have prevented the Macondo incident” The jury is still out with this incident and I can only assume that more evidence will be revealed as the litigation process continues 

8              Fukushima Nuclear power station. Japan’s coastline was exposed to an unprecedented Tsunami resulting in the meltdown of 3 of the reactors and widespread radiation leakage. There were 37 injuries at the time of the incident although it is too early to establish the full extent of long term effects. Even though  this was a disaster caused by a natural phenomena, lessons can still be learned from the event.  

 9              Chernobyl ; Ukraine former eastern block nuclear explosion in reactor 4 resulting in an initial 31 deaths and a radioactive leak that has lead to illnesses and fatalities including thyroid cancer. There was a sudden power output surge, and when an emergency shutdown was attempted, a more extreme spike in power output occurred, which led to a reactor vessel rupture and a series of explosions. The INSAG (The International Nuclear Safety Advisory Group) had concluded that there were gross violations of regulations but the USSR state committee had disagreed and reassessed the causes. They state that the INSAG’s assessment was too erroneous and stated that items such as the turning off of emergency systems is not a violation. Following the accident, questions arose about the future of the plant and its eventual fate. All work on the unfinished reactors 5 and 6 was halted three years later. However, the trouble at the Chernobyl plant did not end with the disaster in reactor 4. This reactor was sealed off in concrete whist the other reactors were still in service due to the energy shortage created by the disaster. 

10           Iraq gulf war. Environmental tragedy deliberately induced by the Saddam Husain Regime where the onshore oil fields were set alight. The disaster is man made as a result of a political war that today is seen by many as illegal. Husain had ordered the wells to be set alight  to ensure the oil was not taken by his enemies                                                                                                                              

 Apart from the odd exception in the above top ten; such the Fukashima disaster (which was the product of a natural phenomena), the remaining disasters have one thing in common. They were all avoidable. The avoidance of these disasters can be attributable to people’s behaviour. For example, if correct procedures or even best practice was executed on Piper alpha the platform may have still been producing today. If the Chinese mining regulations’ were followed maybe many of the fatalities would have been averted. Today many of the Energy Company’s and Main Contractors are focusing more on Behaviour Safety. The thought behind this is to encourage employees to alter their unsafe habits regardless of how great or small the consequences may be. This may be as simple as holding the hand rail whilst ascending or descending a stairwell. The concept here is that; whilst tools are available such as procedures, risk assessments, correct equipment etc, there is a need to focus on correct use; ie follow procedures, use equipment as instructed by manuals etc. To put this concept in perspective consider a situation where you have just put your new shoes on for a night out. Your lace is undone and unnoticed. You are then descending a stairwell and you trip. Case 1: you are not holding the hand rail, and the likely consequences from an inevitable fall could be anything from a minor injury, serious injury that may have lifetime affects or even death. Case 2 you are holding the hand rail and you trip. The natural body reaction would be to tighten the grip on the hand rail reducing the likelihood of a fall. Indeed the likelihood is that you would probably end up in a sitting position on the stair with a few bruises or a sprained wrist from the grip. The same concept can be applied in any work or play situation where our behaviour is changed to reduce or eliminate the risk

Kareem Saheed Remi's picture



Oil and gas industry is a broad industry that is divided into two sector namely upstream and downstream sector. While upstream sector is marjorly offshore base and deals in exploration and process of crude oil and gas, it poses equal amount of risks to human in comparison to downstream sector which is onshore base in most cases and engages in further processing and refining crude oil and gas. 

In oil and gas industry, the most highly rated hazards in term of severity of consequencies are highly combustable and toxic hydrocardon gas and flammable liquid, the crude oil itself. The concept of safety in design make provisions for these hazards to be safely confined in their paths of movement and containments without or with control exposure to environment. Some of the accidents that have occurred on offshore facilities includes:

- 2001 - P36, sinking of semi-submersible, 11 fatalities 

-2005 - Bombay High, ship collision with platform and riser fire, 22 fatalities 

-2007 - Usumacinta, jack up collision with platform, 22 fatalities 

Similar events have also occurred on onshore facilities. Recent examples include: 

-2003 - Chongqing, sour gas blow out, 243 fatalities

- 2004 - Skikda, explosion on LNG plant, 27 fatalities 

-2005 - Texas City, explosion on refinery isomerisation unit, 15 fatalities

- 2009 - Nigeria, pipeline explosion, 100 fatalities 

-2009 - Jaipur, explosion in gasoline storage area, 12 fatalities

- 2010 – Congo, gasoline road tanker overturned, 230 fatalities

(source: RPS Energy, Preventing Major Accidents in Oil and Gas Industry, Nov 2010)


 However, the integrity of these hazard containments are compromised by a number of factors that cause their unplanned release to environment with undesired consequencies. Some of these factors include:

- Human interference while carrying out day to day activities on these containments.

 - Equipment failure or malfunctioning

- Deterioration of fixed equipment due to ageing

In broader view all other factors are embedded in these four main factors.

Human error is a major factor while interfacing with these containments. Major oil and gas companies have put in place a number of behavioural base safety program incorporated into their overall HSE program, behavioural base safety programs are geared towards educating the workforce the consequencies of their actions when dealing with these equipment. Also, commonly used is a system of work permit system and equipment isolation procedure to prevent unplanned release of hazrds from their containment. Also standard equipment repair procedure should be in place, if properly followed, the likelihood of making fatal mistake by personnel while working on these equipment would be reduced. Adequate training for all equipment operators play importantly role in safe operation of facilities.

In most cases, accidents occur as result of monitoring equipment malfunctioning, adequate preventive maintenance program should be a major focal point of top management to ensure that all the control and measuring devices are functioning as designed and function within normal operating range. Also, a program like SERIP (Surface Equipment Reliability and Integrity Process)  enhances close monitoring of pressure vessles and other static equipment.


 Kareem R. Saheed

Babawale Onagbola's picture

Still on the theme of the obvious lapses in the regulations guarding health and safety in the offshore oil and gas industry today, i want to highlight a new perspective to it. Do the oil companies truly have value for the lives of employees, third party contractors and the environment?? The answer is NO. These companies are required by law to have in place the fanciest HSE policies and procedures, HSE deprtments, draw up safety cases and mitigation methods, all these requirements they fulfill, but the bottomline remains that these companies push the limits of nature and technology to squeeze out ALL resources possible from the noth sea(oil and natural gas) to satisfy shareholders and various boards of directors. Various reports have shown that the oil rigs in the North sea are FALLING APART with most of them having exceeded their design lifespans(most installed in 60's and 70's) and even the more recent ones lagging behind in scheduled maintenance programmes. these companies are rolling out funds to push the limits of technilogy to extend even further ALREADY EXPIRED INSTALLATIONS and in the process jeopardizing the lives of employees, third party staff in the pursuit of continuous production. It is not rocket science, you can only push equipment so far(maintenance, extending useful life) at some point, equipment would FAIL. In my reading about the TOTAL Elgin gas leak earlier this year, an artile in the daily mail revealed that employees on the platform had expressed safety concerns predicting a gas leak less than a month before the accident bu employers had assured that should a leak occur, there were adequate safety systems to protect lives of employees at risk. Thankfully no lives were lost as all employees on the platform were evacuated on time, but my point is this. Operations in the area are risky by default, why knowingly expose employees to even higher risk profiles and "hope" that safety systems would protect them in the event of an accident? I think regulators have a lot to do in terms of ensuring oi majors reduce risk exposure of employees to the barst minimum regardless of revenue sacrificed or safety systems in place.


Personally, I think the UK offshore safety system places too much
trust in oil companies and contain risky assumptions like, “an allowable death
rate of one in every thousand workers”. Recent statistics from the HSE has
shown a major decrease in the fatality and major injuries of workers for
2011/12 compared to 2009/10 where there was a drastic rise (

In the case of the Deepwater Horizon Rig, which killed 11 workers
and disaster to the environment, it was not just to oil companies that were to
be blamed. Fingers too were pointed at the enforcement and regulators. The US
after the deepwater incident has considered adopting a safety system like the
UK, particularly as there have not been any major catastrophes since the 1988
Piper Alpha. It is obvious the system which the UK use is working but lets not
forget Oil rigs are practically apartment houses sitting on unpredictable
volcanoes. So rather than relying on facility specific and abstract
demonstrations that risk levels in certain circumstances will result in deaths
of a number of workers, more emphasis should be based on the installation of
the best available “fail safe” technology and teaching the workers to use them.

(Culled from


 Okechukwu Chukelu (51231798)

Andreas Kokkinos's picture

The oil and gas industry
throughout all these years since its early days is considered one of the most
daring and among the most dangerous occupations of all time. Safety and risk
management is considered vital in the oil and gas industry in order to avoid
and limit undesirable accidents. These accidents very often may conclude into
serious injuries of the workers involved and also fatal in many occasions like
the history taught us throughout these years.

In other words, safety and risk
management is to prevent undesirable disasters such as:

The Piper Alpha disaster on 6 July 1988 in the
North Sea, killing 167 workers.

Gulf of Mexico oil spill on 20 April 2010, 11
people killed and huge environmental catastrophe occurred due to a well blowout.

Texas City refinery explosion on 23 of March
2005, 15 workers killed and more than 170 injured after an explosion.


Common factors in major accidents:

Gaps in the industry’s safety culture.

Lack of real commitment
to safety by leaders.

Differentiation in management procedures may not
be executed.

Insufficient analysis, design and optimization for
safety and hazard.

Gaps in communication while significant events

Insufficient learning from prior events and

The illusion of the low probability of an
accident to occur.


In order to ensure the maximum
possible safety in the oil and gas industry, engineers and any other engaged
members in the oil and gas industry must perform in their highest level of
engineering, operating and maintenance practices. Moreover, in order to prevent
major incidents from happening we must learn from the past. Data and facts from
previous incidents must be analyzed in depth in order to uncover shortfalls and
gaps in the management system performance. Finally, monitoring is also very
important especially in multi-level barriers in order to prevent any possible
setback or incident from happening.



Andreas Kokkinos

MSc Oil and Gas Engineering

Uchenna Onyia's picture


In discussing health and safety in the oil
and gas industry as well as all other industries in general, I believe there
are a few inherent factors that need to be discussed.  Factors such as the purpose and procedures
for investigating incidents, and as has being point out by previous discussion
about the reactive nature of the health and safety system in general, ensuring
that lessons learnt can  used to improve
Health and safety in the oil and gas industry.

Emphasis needs to be placed on ensuring an
effective system is in place to investigate incidents and near misses to
determine the root cause.  This system Is
especially lacking in developing countries where most incidents are not properly
investigated.  Also, it is pertinent to
ensure that all actions identified through investigations or shared incidents
are acted upon in a timely manner. 
Regular reviews should always be done to not only ensure that
appropriate actions have been taken, but to also determine if any new finding will
manifest with new improvements in technology. 
All statistics and data is properly recorded and kept and last but not
least, ensure that information obtain from such incident investigation are
shared to everyone to ensure a repeat of such an incident does not occur the
world over.  One way of ensuring
uniformity and safety especially in developing countries is for world governing
bodies like OPEC (from an oil and gas perspective) to adopt a health and safety
management system and insist on all member states adopt that system.



MSc Subsea Engineering 


Uchenna Onyia's picture

In discussing the above topic, I feel it would be beneficial
to identify some of the hazards inherent to the Oil and Gas industry.  Some of these hazards include:

Hazards associated with temperature and flammable materials,
taking special note of terminologies such as Flash point (lowest temperature at
which vapour above a volatile liquid form a combustible mixture with air); Flammability
and flammability limits (i.e. the proportion of combustible gases in a mixture
with air.   This is usually categorised
into Upper flammable limit and Lower flammable limit.  Other hazards worth mentioning include
Toxicity (which is the degree to which a substance is able to damage an exposed
organism). Toxic entities can be chemical, biological or physical.  There are Skin Irritants which are stimuli or
agents which induce a state of irritation. 
Irritants are usually thought of as chemical agents but mechanical,
thermal and radioactive stimuli (such as ultraviolet light or ionising
radiation) can also be irritants.  Also
substances with Carcinogenic properties such as asbestos, certain dioxins and
tobacco smoke are hazards which act as agents directly involved in causing

There are a host of other hazards such as Hydrogen, Methane,
LPG, Nitrogen,  hydrogen sulphide,
oxygen, additives (such as anti-foaming, anti-wetting agents), micro-biocides,
corrosive preventatives, refrigerants, water/steam, the list goes on and all
contribute to hazards inherent to the oil and gas industry.  In the design of oil and gas plants, emphasis
is always placed on designs which either eliminate or minimise exposure/risk to
all/most of these hazards as low as is reasonably practicable.


Source: HSE website and NEBOSH international Health and
safety material. 

uchenna onyia 51232632

MSc Subsea Engineering 

FELIXMAIYO's picture

Safety in the oil and gas industry has been a concern to the world.
Most of the concerns result from handling oil and gas industry and safety has
been a priority in this industry, major concerns have been raised because most
of the laws and regulations are driven by accidents happening e.g. the piper
alpha in 1988 had proper regulations been in place it would not have happened.

UK offshore oil and gas industry is a
major hazard industry; the sector demonstrates a relatively low lost time
injury rate and has, for many years, outperformed a number of comparatively lower
hazard industrial sectors in the UK. A report states that there were just two
fatalities in the UK offshore oil and gas industry and that was at the first UK
continental shelf fatalities in a four- year period. Human safety has been
given priority hence the reduction in the number of fatalities and injuries.

Hydrocarbon release has also reduced drastically since the
introduction of the regulation on their 2010 , HSE started a
program to look into the reduction of hydrocarbon releases , in April 2012 HSE
published data to show that the was a continued improvement in the reduction of
these emission. The reduction target was set for all hydrocarbon releases, it
was noted that there was 40% decrease in major and significant releases and
this was attributed to the program.

Another factor attributed to improvement
in safety in the sector was proper maintenance and repair of offshore plants. The
safety-critical parts of offshore installations are subject to a verification process
to ensure that they are suitable for their intended purpose and remain in good
condition and repair. These verifications are done by independent competent




Kii Cajetan Barisi's picture

Common Factors in Major Accidents
Major accidents share some common factors:


  1. Flaws in the safety culture of the organization and sometimes the whole industry: Organizational culture is the set of shared values and norms upon which decisions are based. Safety culture is simply that subset of the overall culture that reflects the general attitude and approaches to safety and risk management. Safety culture is primarily set by the leaders of the organization as they establish the basic values upon which decisions will be based.Lack of real commitment to safety by leaders: Management commitment to safety has been found to be the most important factor in distinguishing between organizations with high and low accident rates [Leveson, 1995].
  2. Nonexistent or not followed management of change procedures: A large percentage of major accidents occur after some change in the system or in the way it is operated. While most companies have management of change procedures on their books, these procedures are not always followed.
  3. Inadequate hazard analysis and design for safety: Instead of putting the emphasis on designing safety into the system from the beginning, the major emphasis is instead placed on recovery from adverse events or investigating them after they occur.
  4. Flawed communication and reporting systems: In a surprisingly large number of accidents, unsafe conditions were detected prior to the actual loss events or precursor events occurred but were not adequately reported or investigated so that the loss event could be prevented.
  5. Inadequate learning from prior events: Prior incidents and accidents are very often only superficially investigated. The symptoms of the underlying systemic causes of the accident or incident are identified as the cause of the events but not the underlying flawed processes or culture that led to those symptoms.


Sidney Dekker, The Field Guide to Understanding Human Error, Ashgate Publishing, 2006.

Charles Haddon-Cave, The Nimrod Review, HC 1025, London: The Stationery Office Limited, Oct. 28, 2009.

Nancy Leveson, Safeware, Addison-Wesley Publishers, 1995.

Kii Cajetan Barisi's picture

Given this system and control view of safety, we can identify the flaws in the safety control structure that allowed the Deepwater Horizon accident to occur and what can be done to strengthen the overall offshore oil and gas industry safety control structure. The general key to preventing these occurrences in the future is to provide better information for decision making, not just for the government regulators but for those operating the oil rigs.
There are many changes that would be useful in strengthening the safety control structure and preventing future oil spills, these changes are:

  • Providing appropriate incentives to change the safety culture: Participants in industries like commercial aviation understand the direct relationship between safety and their profits and future viability. The relationship is not so clear in the off-shore oil industry.there also need to be incentives to update safety technology. The standard BOP design was less effective as exploration moved into deeper water and other technology changes occurred, but the industry ignored the many previous BOP failures and insisted that the design could not be improved
  •  industry standards: One of the surprises that emerges in the investigation of an accident is the lack of standards in the industry, for example standards for cementing operations improved.
  • Industry self-policing: Any government regulatory agency is limited in what it can accomplish. After Three Mile Island, the nuclear power industry created an industry organization, called INPO, to provide shared oversight of safety in the nuclear sector 
  • Certification and training: Another lesson learned from the investigation of the Deepwater Horizon accident is that some workers have minimal training and little certification is required. The changes needed here are obvious.

 Learning from events. A systems approach to accident and incident investigation needs to be implemented by everyone in the industry in order to improve the learning and continual improvement process [Leveson, 2011]. we need to do the following:


  •  Hazard analysis: While the process industry has a very powerful hazard analysis technique, called HAZOP, the use of this technique is not as prevalent as it should be. The results from HAZOP need to be used to improve technological design and also passed to operations to guide maintenance and performance audits.
  •  Maintenance: For the Macondo well, maintenance of safety-critical equipment, for example on the BOP, was not performed as required for safety and as specified in the equipment standards. Regulatory agencies can only spot-check compliance. Ensuring that proper maintenance activities are performed is an important activity for the company Safety Management System
  • Integration of safety engineers into operational decision making: One of the surprises to me personally in the Deepwater Horizon investigations was the lack of any operational safety group advising the decision makers on the platforms. If such a group existed, it did not play an important enough role to be mentioned in the description of the events that occurred. Industries with strong safety programs include a person or group that is responsible for advising management at all levels of the organization on both long-term decisions during engineering design and development of new platforms and on the safety implications of decisions during operations. In most other industries, a safety engineer would have been resident on the platform and involved in all the real time safety-related decision making. 

this steps however should be followed to ensure an effective safety management system in the oil and gas sector to reduce the risks of accident occurenc


Nancy Leveson, Engineering a Safer World, MIT Press, to appear fall 2011. In the meantime, a final draft can be downloaded from


Mike Martin and Roland Schinzinger, Ethics in Engineering, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1989.




Oluwasegun Onasanya's picture

Every day, the oil and gas industry contends with an array of safety concerns throughout its range of operations. In the face of increasing regulatory oversight, as well as increased public scrutiny, oil and gas industries have implemented and are still implementing effective safety management systems to help protect their workers, the general public and the environment.Oil and gas companies have established specific systems, programs and processes to manage and monitor activities that affect their safety performance, management systems that support safety sustainability and business performance throughout the full life cycle of their assets.The following are some of the programs and systems used by oil and gas companies, to manage their safety performance:-

1.    Integrated HSE management system design and development.

2.    Incident and near-miss investigation. Companies adopt different tools for their near-miss and incident investigation. Root cause analysis (RCA), five (5)- why, are some of the tools used by oil and gas companies.

3.    Management of change (MOC) system design. This is a system that is put in place to manage change –which may be a temporary or permanent change, especially if what to be change has a safety concern.

4.    Permit to work system.  This is a system that is put in place to manage and control the day to day tasks that are carried out. Tasks that are likely to impact the safety of the personnel’s are further reviewed, so as to have more controls in place and done in a safe manner.

5.    Lock out and Tag out (LOTO). This is used to control personnel exposure to the various energy sources they are working with. Locks are fitted to either a mechanical or electrical isolation and can only be removed, when the tasks have been completed. Tags are also used to create the same awareness as a lock.

6.    Regulatory compliance audits.

7.    Safety culture evaluation and training.

8.    HSE training programs.

Risk are inherent in every forward-looking business decision. As a result, there has been a great deal of work done and resources invested in risk management in the oil and gas industry in recent years.

Financial and regulatory risks have been the focus of much of this effort. But more recently, companies have started including operational risks, process safety risks, prioritizing them, and thinking about how they can manage and monitor all risks in a coordinated way. An effective risk management system needs to offer solutions tailored not only to the industry, but also to the specific company and the sectors in which it operates.

1.    Hazard Identification and evaluation.2.    Quantitative risk analysis.


1. Top 10 risks for the oil and gas industry.  

2. Oil and gas risk management.   


Richard Sedafor's picture


Oluwaseguu, I agree with the point that an effective risk management system must offer solution that is not only tailored to fit the industry but must also be company specific.

Leading Oil and Gas Companies like shell, Chevron etc have well established safety and Risk management systems that ensures that the safety of their operations are guaranteed. These companies most often have invested billions over the years in safety related matters. For such companies the measures you have outlined is easy to comply with. But what about smaller or emerging companies with smaller oil fields? The drive to make profits for shareholders may often override investment in Safety because it is expensive.

 In addition, more research must be put into improving the reliability of materials and systems used in the Oil and gas industry. As efficiency of systems improve, safety also will improve.





I would like to add detail regards with HSE
as mentioned by
Oluwasegun Onasanya.
Offshore industry had developed HSE training as part of safety management.
Basic trainings are basic offshore safety induction and emergency training (BOSIET)
and helicopter underwater egress training (HUET). As you know, helicopter
transportation is one of major risk in the offshore work.

These trainings are designed and
standardized by Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organization (OPITO). Normally
training from center certified by OPTIO is accepted. Certifications may be
required for offshore crew by each company’s HSE policy, and then no one can
inboard without certifications if HSE policy is strictly complied. Also it
should be renewed every 3 years through re-training.

In BOSIET participant will take class and exercise
for sea survival including evacuation, fire fighting and etc. In HUET, participants
will exercise escape from emergency landing at sea.

Of course, making a safety system is the
best but personnel should be well aware of coping skills in the emergency. I
believe safety training should be repeated more often not only from training
center but also from site. Attention and training will lead minimum loss at








Uchenna Onyia's picture

When talking about Health and safety in the oil and gas
industry, one major regulation comes to mind which is the Offshore Installation
(Safety Case)Regulation 2005 (SCR05)1. 
Extracting from the regulation, r.12 states:

“Among other things, a duty holder is required to ensure;

All hazards with the potential to cause a major
accident have been identified.

All major accident risks have been evaluated;

Measures have been or will be taken to control
the major accident risks to ensure compliance with the relevant statutory

This also relates to our argument in class about who is to
blame when accidents/incident occur.

Further to this, I thought it might to mention some of the
other relevant statutory regulations in the oil and gas industry.

Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSWA).

Offshore Installations (Prevention of Fire and
Explosions and Emergency Response) regulations 1995 (PFEER).

Offshore Installations and Wells (Design and
Construction, etc) Regulations 1996 (DCR)

Control of Major Accident Hazard Regulations

EC Directive 96/82/EC on control of major
accident hazards involving dangerous substances. (Seveso II Directive).

Chemical (Hazard Identification and Packaging for
Supply) Regulations 1994 as amended (CHIP2008).

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health
Regulations 2002(COSHH).

Reporting of Injuries, Disease and Dangerous Occurrences
Regulations 1995. (RIDDOR)  Please note this regulation buttressmy point in my earlier comment about the need for systematic approach to recording and reporting of incidents in the workplace. 


Please note my list might not be exhaustive and I welcome
any colleague to add to this list if aware of any other. 

uchenna onyia 51232632 MSc subsea engineering

Siwei Kang's picture

Risk and safety management is becoming
increasingly important in oil and gas industry, especially many disasters happened
worldwide. In view of the higher risk of offshore oil & gas compared with
that of onshore, I would like to focus more on offshore safety and risk
management. Generally, in technology management, it can be classified as six
steps: prevention, detection, control, prevention of escalation, protection and
EER (Evacuate, Escape and Rescue). Meanwhile, other factors also can have
negative effect on safety and risk management, like wars, geopolitical reason
and natural disaster.

In technology, prevention should be put a
lot of emphasis. The offshore facilities need to be designed according to design
codes and standards.
taken both before design and construction as well as during construction should
prevent components from breaking down or failing to perform their design duty.
Besides, hazard areas should be clearly categorized. Fire, explosion and
flow-over should be detected in time through detectors on platform. Once
hazards are detected, relative instruments, like fire protection, blowdown valves,
and ESD, should be activate immediately. In general, it is imperative for oil companies
to build and be operated under a comprehensive system which covers the whole
life cycle of oil and gas fields. If the system can not be executed strictly,
it could result in disasters. Take BP’s oil spill in 2010 for example, the
horizontal deepwater accident
killed 11 workers and
injured 16 others, as well as billions dollars loss for BP.

To some
extent, the above interior factors can be avoided or controlled if appropriate
measurements are taken. Nevertheless, some exterior factors like asset nationalization
by the government can hardly be anticipated and manipulated by companies. In
2007, Exxon-Mobil and
ConocoPhillips lost billions
dollars in Venezuela
because of the oil asset nationalization. Available from

chukwuemeka uzukwu's picture

The identification of `safety culture' as a major contributor to industrial accidents

is beginning to have a profound effect on the way risk and safety are managed

within organisations. It suggests that the occurrence of accidents can be predicted on

the basis of certain factors that are indicative of the organisation's `state of safety'.

The oil and gas industry now faces its strongest set of challenges in terms of risk and compliance regulations. Recent events such as the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico have further brought to light the presence and relevance of such regulations

Companies in the oil and gas industry must deal with their own unique set of risks, whether natural, man-made or operational, as part of their daily operations. The approach that works well at an offshore installation may not be the best option for a refinery. An effective risk management system needs to offer solutions tailored not only to the industry, but also to the specific company and the sectors in which it operates.

xenios.ze's picture

What dangers drilling operation occurs?

In this post I want to mention about the dangers that
drilling operations occur. Drilling operations has one of the highest levels of
difficulty and workers are in a continuous danger. The personnel often make
mistakes during offshore drilling activities, including rotary drilling, well
servicing and use of oil field explosives. Those mistakes can result to
injuries or even to fatal accidents, but also could let to an oil release to
the marine environment. Another problem that occurs in the drilling operations
is when the mud which is produced by the drilling is disposed in the ocean. The
mud contains mercury and lead which can harm the subsea environment. A big
problem with the offshore and onshore drilling operation is the natural
phenomenon. A tropical storm or hurricane can damage rigs (especially those constructed
prior to the 1990s when safer construction practices were instituted) and move
platforms great distances, releasing greater quantities of oil and dispersing
oil over wider geographic areas. Storm events are high-risk, low-probability
events but do create dangerous scenarios because safety precautions are
hindered during the event.

References :

Xenios Zenieris

Msc Oil and Gas Engineering

Claire Snodgrass's picture

A few people have questioned the level of responsibility or
trust placed on operators in the North Sea, but I think this fails to credit to
the checks and balances in place.

As has been discussed previously in this forum, the operator has to identify the hazards, assess the risks and implement measures to remove or reduce the risk to as low as reasonably practicable, all of which is documented within the installation's safety case. The safety case then has to be accepted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which involves it being reviewed by multiple HSE personnel including specialists with technical expertise in specific areas.  Six months is allocated to this process to allow queries to be resolved and revisions made.  Operations cannot start until the safety case is accepted.

In addition, the operator must identify all the safety-critical elements (SCEs) of the installation and prepare a written scheme of verification to test and examine the SCEs to ensure they are and remain fit for purpose.   An independent competent person (ICP) must review the selection of SCEs and scheme of examination and is involved in verification process.

The Offshore Installations (Safety Case) Regulations 2005 (Great Britain, 2005) defines safety-critical elements as:

 "such parts of an installation and such of its plant (including computer programmes), or any part thereof-

(a)the failure of which could cause or contribute substantially to; or

(b)a purpose of which is to prevent, or limit the effect of,a major accident;"

These are just two examples of where checks are placed on the operator in key areas of safety.

Reference: Great Britain. The Offshore Installations (Safety Case) Regulations 2005 [Online].
(2005) Available at: [accessed
07 October 2012]

Claire Snodgrass's picture

To build on my previous post about the checks and balances
within the safety case regime, consider the case of a well being drilled.  The operator will plan and design the well
taking into account the hazards and reducing the risks to as low as reasonably
practicable as required by the Offshore Installations and Wells (Design and
Construction, etc.) Regulations 1996 (Great Britain, 1996).

The operator must submit a notification of well operations
to the HSE which will be reviewed by a specialist well inspector and any
queries should be addressed.  Although no
acceptance from the HSE must be received, the HSE can take proceeding to halt
the operation if not satisfied with the operator’s plans.

The design must also be reviewed an independent well
examiner, so there are two separate assessments of the planned well.

On top of this are the requirements for a safety case and the
written scheme of verification for safety-critical elements (such as the
blowout preventer), as previously discussed. 
In addition, the operator must provide weekly reports to the HSE
detailing work carried out on the well and its current state.

So although the responsibility for safety lies with the duty
holder, the state does have oversight of key risk areas such as drilling – both
before and during operations – and requires the use of independent bodies to
provide and additional review of critical safety matters.

Reference: Great Britain. Offshore Installations and Wells (Design and Construction, etc.)
Regulations 1996
[Online]. (1996) Available at
[Accessed 08 October 2012]

***Apologies for formatting***

Claire Snodgrass's picture

To follow on from my previous posts regarding checks and
balances in the UK goal setting regime, I think it is important to consider the
relationship between the regulator and the operator.

The regulator gathers information about an operator’s
assets, management systems and operations built up through review of statutory
submissions such as an installation’s safety case and notifications including
those required for combined operations, well operations and changes to
production pipelines.  On top of this are
proactive measures including routine inspections and meetings, and inspections and
work as part of focused campaigns, such as KP4 mentioned by Andrew Allan.

Then there are the reactive measures through the reports
required by RIDDOR (The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous
Occurrences Regulations 1995) – which not only requires reporting of serious
injuries and fatalities but specified dangerous occurrences associated with
wells and production pipelines – and subsequent follow up investigations and

Through these various means the regulator can build a
picture of the issues of each operator and each platform (for there can be
variation within an operator) and work with them to improve weak areas.

The operator should be allowed to work on recognised issues
so long as progress is being made and the risks are adequately managed.  It must be borne in mind that many issues
cannot be solved overnight.  Most
installations in the North Sea were not designed to the standards that prevail
today, often making it difficult or impractical to directly apply current best
practices.  Even changes in management
systems or programmes take time to be implemented properly.

That is not to say that regulator should not take action for
gross breaches of safety management or when the risk to personnel is
intolerable.   It can and does, either by
issuing improvement notices that require specified action to be taken within
the given timescale, or issuing a prohibition notice that shuts down an

The regulator must balance the carrot and stick approaches
to maintain an open dialogue and effective working relationship with the

Claire Snodgrass's picture

It has been suggested by several people in this discussion that the UK’s goal setting regime places too much responsibility place, but I believe it is important to consider the risks of a prescriptive regime and also the flexibility of the goal setting regime.
A prescriptive regime could to lead a ‘safety by numbers’ approach where individual situations are not adequately evaluated to consider their particular conditions and risks.  It could lead to a false sense of security in that the necessary legislative requirements have been met therefore the operation is safe.
Under the UK’s goal setting regime the HSE issues guidance for offshore regulations and in some cases approved codes of practice (ACOPs).  ACOPs are designed such that if a company were to follow one they should be in compliance with the relevant legislation.  However, it is not a “get out of jail free card” as the requirement to assess hazards and reduce risks to as low as reasonably practicable will always take precedence.  Conversely, a company is not required to follow the ACOP, but if they were taken to court over a health & safety failing then they would have to prove that that that the safety measures in place were at least equal to the ACOP.
Guidance notes do not have the same legal standing, but deviation from them – or industry standards and good oilfield practice – would almost certainly be questioned in a prosecution.
This system gives flexibility in that good standards are defined – there is a ‘prescription’ that can be followed – but within the freedom allowed by the goal setting regime new and better practices can evolve.  If these practices are then used to update the defined standards then the system will continuously improve.

Claire Snodgrass's picture

In my recent posts I have tried to highlight some of the
benefits of the UK’s goal setting regime, but, of course, no system is perfect.  Below are some potential weak points in the

As mentioned previously, an independent competent person
must be involved in the written scheme of examination of safety-critical
elements.  Although provision is made to
define independence, the ICP is chosen by – and paid by – the operator, so can
they truly be independent, particularly when competing for contracts? 

Furthermore, how can competency of the ICP, crucial when
assessing critical safety systems, be guaranteed?  This is another case of ‘who checks the
checkers’, similar to the concern raised by Tony Morgan.

Moving on to safety cases, the operator is required to
describe the management systems and procedures in place to manage risk, but are
there any tests to ascertain that these are effective or even applied?  How robust are the checks and reviews
conducted by the regulator?

Overall, the nature of the goal-setting regime will lead to
a variety of approaches to meeting the legislative requirements.  While this may create good practice, it also
allows sub-standard performance to exist.  Though underperformance may in some cases be
identified and stopped by the regulator, it could also take an incident to
uncover them.

Claire Snodgrass's picture

I'd like to illustrate my previous post on the weaknesses of
the UK's goal setting regime with the examples from the HSE's last focussed
offshore programme, Key Programme 3 (KP3) Asset Integrity (HSE, 2008).

Between 2004 and 2007 HSE Inspectors
visited almost 100 installations across 33 duty holders to investigate and
evaluate management and maintenance of safety-critical elements (SCEs).  A standardised survey was conducted that
assessed 17 management elements and tested a selection of SCEs.  The performance of each installation in each management
element and test was marked using a traffic light system.  In this classification a red traffic light
was defined as: "Non-compliance with
legislation; Major failing of system (hardware or management) or partial
failure with a history of failure; Minded to serve notice"

Overall, across all installations
and management elements, 8% fell into the red category of non-compliance and
further 31% were classed as amber, defined as an "isolated failure or incomplete system".

The element with the highest
non-conformance for all installations was ‘maintenance of SCEs' where  22% of installations received a red traffic light
grade and less than a third were given the green mark of compliance.  It is a serious problem that the equipment identified
as critical in preventing a major accident is not being maintained properly
across the majority of installations inspected.

It is also concerning that the
lessons from past incidents do not appear to have been heeded.  When safety critical systems were tested by
the HSE, a significant number were classed as non-compliant (red traffic light)
including those identified as key safety systems in the recommendation from the
public inquiry into the Piper Alpha disaster. 
HVAC systems had the greatest proportion of non-compliances at 35% of
those tested (Health and Safety Laboratory, 2009).

Reference: HSE (2008) Key Programme 3: Asset Integrity Programme
[Online]. Available at [Accessed 09
October 2012].

Claire Snodgrass's picture

There were some interesting
findings in the HSE’s KP3 Asset Integrity Programme described in my previous

Although there are no identifying
company data in the research report produced by the HSE (2008), companies with assigned
codes so that the ratings of companies and their installations could be

As might be expected, some
companies outperformed others: three companies achieved over 90% green ratings
while three has less than 40% green.

More surprisingly perhaps is that,
when looking at the performance of individual installations, there was
generally marked variation within companies. 
For example, one of the worst performing installations in terms of management
elements (zero green, 6 amber, 10 red) was part of the same company as one of
the top-ranking installations (15 green, 1 amber).

I believe this hints at the
complexity of managing SCEs – if it was simple each company would likely have
more consistent results across their assets.

Reference: HSE (2008) Key Programme 3: Asset Integrity Programme
[Online]. Available at [Accessed 09
October 2012].

Claire Snodgrass's picture

Looking at some of the issues
raised during KP3 (HSE, 2008) may go some way to explain the complexity I
mentioned in a previous post.

Maintenance of SCEs was found to
be poor with work overdue or deferred often due to resource constraints and the
resources directed to drilling and project programmes. 

This could be seen as the
operator wishing to focus on profit rather than safety, but consider that it
was also found that in the reporting of maintenance backlogs, etc to senior
management it was not clear regarding safety critical equipment.  Furthermore, a general lack of understanding
of the role of SCEs in preventing major accident hazards was also
uncovered.  In addition, the engineering
function within companies was found to lack authority.

Essentially then the message that
something needs to be done is not getting through, when it is the implication
is not necessarily understood and the people who do understand are not in a
position to insist it gets done.

While this is a major simplification
of just some of the factors at work, but I hope it illustrates that there are
multiple, interlinked causes behind the poor performances identified in the KP3

Reference: HSE (2008) Key Programme 3: Asset Integrity Programme
[Online]. Available at [Accessed 09
October 2012].

Claire Snodgrass's picture

I mentioned in a previous post
that in the UK the HSE can and do take action when an operator is failing in
their responsibility to manage safety offshore.

In 2010, the HSE issued 33
improvement notices and 4 prohibition notices (HSE, 2012) to oil & gas
companies (operators, facilities management companies and drilling
companies).  A similar number were issued
in 2011: 39 improvement notices and 2 prohibition notices.

This data can be viewed in two
ways.  It’s concerning that duty holders
are failing to comply with their safety responsibilities, especially when the
failure has been so significant that they must be forced to stop
operations.  On the other hand it’s
positive to see that the regulator will step in when is sees those failings and
will take action when there is a risk to the safety of offshore personnel.

Some posts in this forum have
suggested that the UK’s goal setting regime gives operators too much
responsibility for safety, but I believe this shows that the state does play an
active role and will take action when it does not think the operator is
adequately managing the risks offshore.

Reference:  HSE (2012.) HSE Public Register of Enforcement Notices. Available at
[accessed 09 October 2012].


 ***Apologies for the formatting in these posts.  It cannot be helped at this time but I will try to sort it later***

Richard Milne's picture

Claire, I am glad that you brought up your point about Independant Competent Person(s). I would very much like to add to the discussion on this point.

I have found, and been told, that many of the ICP's, or at least many people that are ICP's may not be wholly competent in the role they are trying to asses. Lots of ICP's are in fat just going by the regulations they have written down in front of them instead of using the experience of the people they are working with, or indeed the people they are auditing (or similar), to figure out whether a practice is safe.

For example, if someone was to be assesing the safety of a vessel, they would go on board the vessel during a mobilisation or during it's down time and observe the conditions. However, the better way to observe the safety of a vessel is to be on board during operations. Watching the people go about their jobs as if you weren't there.

However, the old adage of 'Never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes' may be applicable here. Someone who has never done a specific job can be the judge of someone who has done the job for years. The person who has done the job for years has built up all of these ways of making a job easier for himself, and then an ICP can come along and destroy all of his methods due to safety concerns.  

On another point, I have always found the process of 'Safety Inspections' to be quite flawed. As with any type of inspection, generally people are warned to be on their 'best behaviour', so I feel the true way to inspect for safety is to use some sort of remote system, ie cameras etc which can observe without people thinking they are being observed, only then do you get true behaviours.  

Adejugba Olusola's picture

Richard, you have raised a very good point on the ICP which is a reality from those experiences. There exists the frustration of the ICP simply going by the letter of the regulation. I guess the moot point, though, is does that mean that the operators are running foul of regulations? That said, I feel there is still a positive to having the ICP especially if they can engender the quality discussions that should go on between the ICP and the dutyholder on the condition of each Safety Critical Element.

The responsibility for operating safely still sits squarely on the shoulder of the Duty Holder so a decision to either accept, consider or reject any ICP recommendation will need to be taken by operators as the duty holder. Duty Holders have personnel known as Technical Authority who must be technically competent and are responsible for evaluating and making engineering and other technical judgements on the operations of safety critical elements{1}. In my opinion, the best way to obtain an advantage from this relationship is to have a sort of “constructive tension” between the ICP and the Duty Holder to ensure there is a continuous challenge both ways.

With regards to the issue of competency, this is quite a big issue which applies to not just the ICP but the oil & gas industry as a whole and will take not only the operators and regulators but all stakeholders to establish competency frameworks for the industry.



Adejugba Olusola

Adejugba Olusola's picture

To further comment on the issue of “Safety Inspections” raised by Richard, it is evident that having a third party outside of a task with oversight on the task helps to highlight issues the team working on the activities are blindsided to which is where the concept of supervision comes from. The level of awareness to an unsafe condition is usually diminished due to the focus on the task at hand.

Whilst safety inspections may not be totally effective for the reasons mentioned, I think the idea of "snooping-in" on people remotely on cameras whilst at work may not go down so well with a lot of offshore workers. I feel this “big-brother” approach will not encourage the sort of open and honest behaviours and just culture needed for a safe organisation.

On the other hand, safety inspections being conducted by another member of the team rather than a "safety personnel" may help in simulating the work circumstance is as close to reality as possible or the use of a buddy system that allows Safety Interventions from within the team may be a more effective means of preventing personnel from taking short-cuts.

Adejugba Olusola

VICTOR ETIM's picture

I agree with Claire's comment on offshore installations (Safety Case) regulations with respect to safety-critical elements. It has been well researched that major offshore accident and hazards could have been avoided if strict compliance and best industry practice were observed and implimented to detail and specifications but the challenge is often cutting corners and human factors.

Attending the last GASECH 2012 CONFERENCE in London where I listened to a presentation of LNG Shipment and Bunkering risks and challenges by the Llyods Register, I then appreciate the need for stringent compliance to offshore HSE regulations. There are always releases of hydrocarbons during tieing in via loading and offloading of gas, fuel or diesel and this a major challenge to the industry.

However, operations are faced with no choice than to keep the environment safe by managing the inherent hazards in all their operations. With the golden era of SHALE GAS and Floating Liquidified Natural Gas (FLNG), the risk level will ultimately rise and call for critical survelliance by regulators and coastal agencies to checkmate the activities oil and gas bunkering.



Kevin K. Waweru's picture

The UK Oil & Gas industry has witnessed
some significant disasters such as Piper Alpha. Despite this, it is a global
leader in safety management. The need to reduce the number of accidents and improve
safety standards is well understood throughout the industry if a repeat disaster
is to be avoided.

At the core of the industry’s safety
management campaign is the goal setting regulatory framework which tackles
responsible and effective major hazard management. Joined-up working and information
sharing at various safety forums
are tools also used to openly report on safety performance and learn from past
experiences (cited 2012-10-10:

Given the UK’s ageing offshore
infrastructure, appropriate attention must be given to ensure asset integrity as
the industry pushes for life extension of these assets. Hydrocarbon releases
must also be lowered in order to achieve the industry-set reduction target (cited

Kevin K. Waweru

MSc Oil & Gas Engineering 

Elle Allswell David's picture

At Jesse (Geographical coordinates 5.870⁰ N, 5.750⁰E) a town in the Oil rich Niger Delta Region of Nigeria on the 17th of October, 1998 an oil pipeline belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and served as a link between an oil Refinery in the south
eastern town of Warri and the Kaduna Refinery in the Northern part of the country was engulfed by fire.  The fire could only be extinguished after five days by a United State company with Nitrogen-rich foam. It took the life of over 1200 people including children, youths, and
adults. It is indeed a great disaster.

It was found out that the cause of the fire was as a result of leakage from a pipeline. The pipeline was laid in the early 70s and ought to have been changed. It was also discovered that there were no safety devices on the pipeline as it was designed with old technology. It was finally concluded that the cause of the fire was due to ageing of the pipeline and lack of maintenance by the company involved.  

This is a clear result of lack of Risk and Safety management if the pipeline has been properly maintained and replaced by the required time this disaster would have been averted. After the incidence it was recommended that the pipeline be replaced and remidiation be carried out on the spilled area of land and the families of the victims be duly compensated.


Wasting Lives [Reports by Doifie Ola and David Eighemhenrio]


Andrew Allan's picture

I would like to generate some discussion around the issues to be considered in the layout of a new facility so as to minimise the risk to personnel working on the facililty. Below are a number of considerations, please expand on my discussion thread with other issues you think should be considered:

Physical separation of safe areas from high risk areas

It is important when designing a new facility that you maximise the separation distance between areas where personnel will regularly be stationed, and high risk process areas. On an offshore platfrom this often means having the drilling/wellhead area at the opposite end of the platform (or on a separate bridge linked platform) from the Accommodation module. In doing so you minimise the likelihood of major accident events in the wellbay area from impacting personnel within the accommodation module. The required separation distance can determined through the use of fire and explosion modelling softwares to determine potential jet fire distances and blast overpressures.

Andrew Allan's picture

In designing an offshore platform, large process vessels and containers for storage of hazardous chemicals should preferrably be situated on a lower deck, such that in the event of a loss of containment, the liquids drain to the sea rather than cascading onto equipment below.  In the event of a fire, having a large vessel leaking flammable liquids onto equipment below greatly increases the likelihood of escalation and should be avoided if possible.  If this is not possible then installation of a plated deck with appropriate bunding and hazardous closed drains can be used to safely transport any flammable liquids away from an area, thus reducing the likelihood of fire.  One such example of a hazardous inventory would be the flare knock out drum, this is a vessel which collects flammable liquids from the flare system.  This vessel is usually situated on a lower deck of a platfrom such that the liquids can freely drain to the vessel, and so that in the event the vessel leaks that the inventory is released to sea rather than dripping down onto process equipment below.

Andrew Allan's picture

Whilst in onshore oil and gas facilities the designer often has the luxury of having a large land area upon which to layout the required equipment, for offshore platforms the emphasis is very much on minimising the footprint to remain within the limits of the jacket structure. To do this requires the stacking of multiple decks to house the required process and utilities equipment.

In doing this you greatly increase the level of confinement as you essentially box in volumes of space which have the potential to fill with flammable vapours in the event a leak occurs. Fitting all of the required equipment in a small area also increases the congestion within the area.

These two factors, confinement and congestion, have an impact on the explosion overpressures experienced in the event of delayed ignition of a flammable gas cloud. Confinement and congestion aid in accellerating the blast overpressure wave, increasing its destructiveness. This can have a devastating effect on the immediate area and lead to escalation due to damage to surrounding equipment.

In offshore facility design it is important to maximise the natural ventilation of a space in order to minimise the likelihood of flammable gas clouds forming. This can be done through a number of means including:

- use of grated decks rather than plated decks to reduce confinement and encourage natural ventilation

- Orientation of equipment to minimise congestion

- Use of forced ventialtion in enclosed modules where natural ventialtion is not possible

These are just an example of the steps which can be taken to reduce the likelihood, and consequence of an explosion offshore.

Andrew Allan's picture

Given the small footprint of an offshore platform it is often not possible to provide physical separation between process equipment in order to reduce the likelihood of escalation. Instead, fire and blast walls are often used to segregate areas and reduce the impact of a fire or explosion in an area.

Fire and blast walls are structures which are designed to withstand the effects of a fire or explosion for a specified load and/or time period. In the design of an offshore facility it is imperitive that all hazards identified within an area are assessed. This is often done through the use of fire and explosion modleling softwares to predict the magnitude and duration of an event given certain process conditions. This modelling then allows the designer to select an appropriate fire/blast wall design to ensure the wall remains intact for the required duration, thus minimising the likelihood of escalation.

One example of the use of fire/blast walls is in the design of an offshore temporary refuge. The purpose of a temporary refuge is to provide an area for personnel to muster to assess an event and decide on the appropriate means of escape or evacuation if required. To enable personnel to take refuge the TR must be adequately designed to withstand the effects of foreseeable fires or explosions for a sufficent period of time for personnel to take the required action. The survivability of the TR is ensured through the use of fire/explosion proof cladding along with HVAC design.

Uchenna Onyia's picture

An important aspect of Health and Safety Management is
Performance monitoring.  Procedures to
monitor, measure and record OSH performance on a regular basis should be
developed, established and periodically reviewed. Responsibility,
accountability and authority for monitoring at different levels in the
management structure should be allocated

monitoring and measurement should:

·be used as a
means of determining the extent to which OSH policy and objectives are being
implemented and risks are controlled;

·include both
active and reactive monitoring, and not be based only upon work-related injury,
ill-health, disease and incident statistics; and

·be recorded.

should provide:

·feedback on
OSH performance;

to determine whether the day-to-day arrangements for hazard and risk
identification, prevention and control are in place and operating effectively;

· the basis
for decisions about improvement in hazard identification and risk control, and
the OSH management system.


uchenna onyia 51232632

MSc Subsea Engineering 

Uchenna Onyia's picture

As a follow
up to my earlier comment, I thought I would talk more on Active and Reactive

monitoring should contain the elements necessary to have a proactive system and
should include:

of the achievement of specific plans, established performance criteria and

systematic inspection of work systems, premises, plant and equipment;

of the working environment, including work organisation;

surveillance of workers' health, where appropriate, through suitable medical
monitoring or follow-up of workers for early detection of signs and symptoms of
harm to health in order to determine the effectiveness of prevention and
control measures; and

compliance with applicable national laws and regulations, collective agreements
and other commitments on OSH to which the organisation subscribes.

monitoring should include the identification, reporting and investigation of:

injuries, ill-health (including monitoring of aggregate sickness absence
records), diseases and incidents;

losses, such as damage to property;

safety and health performance, and OSH management system failures; and

workers' rehabilitation and health-restoration


Safety and Health
Management Systems (ILO-OSH 2001).

Occupational Health
and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS 18000).

Occupational Health
and Safety Management Systems (OHSAS 18001/18002), BSI


uchenna onyia 51232632

MSc Subsea Engineering 

Brenda Amanda's picture

While I completely agree that more work needs to be done
about the industry’s response to the subject to be more proactive than
reactive; we need to keep in mind that it is humans like us that design,
operate and maintain these systems.

I attended the LRET lecture by Prof Torgeir Moan this
evening and have a new found respect for all the work that goes into
ascertaining that these structures are safe. An accidental limit state is
factored in during the design phase. That is proactive. But there is only so
much man can do. Factors of safety will be incorporated but the welder might
have had a bad day and forget to tighten a screw… These things cannot be
accounted for.

Ofcourse Inspections have got to be as regular as possible
but these are still done by man. HSE has regulations that these companies
adhere to as their licences depend on it.

As we blame the operators, regulators, the government and so
on, may we remember that some things can just not be anticipated. The industry
learns from previous mistakes to make the future operations safer.

Mykola Mamykin's picture

Safety & Environmental Management System (SEMS)

In United States, BSEE regulates how safe and environmentally sound are the Operator's method to extract oil.

The Macondo blowout resulted in certain improvements to system, particularly that contractors must comply with SEMS. (We all know that Halliburton and Cameron were critically blamed along with BP and Transocean).

In general, SEMS applies to all drilling, production, construction, well workover, well completion, well servicing, mobile offshore drilling units, and Department of Interior pipeline activities and is based on the following element of previously voluntary API RP 75:
- General
- Safety and environmental information
- Hazards analysis
- Management of change
- Operating procedures
- Safe working practices
- Training
- Assurance of quality and mechanical integrity of critical equipment
- Pre-startup review
- Emergency response and control
- Investigation of incidents
- Audit of SEMS elements
- Records and Documentation.


"Offshore" Magazine, August 2012, p46-48

Mykola Mamykin's picture

Safety & Environmental Management System (SEMS)

To further elaborate on the SEMS, Operators need to pass SEMS audit within two years of November 2011 and every three years thereafter. SEMS plans are to be audited be an independent third Party. Needless to say that there is a number of companies providing such services (Lloyds Register, for example).

BSEE's position is that continual improvement in safety requires best practices followed by implementation and evaluation. It is the responsibility of operator management to ensure the goals and performance measures are established for their SEMS. (a good example of goal-setting legislation).

Specifically operators must:
- Verify that personnel, including contractors, have received proper training and have the skills and knowledge to perform their assigned duties*
- Conduct design suitability studies when the original mechanical or process design information no longer exists**
- Ensure a contractor's hazard assessment and JSA documents are revised and updated to reflect changes in their SEMS program
- Have a copy of all of the contractor's Safe Work Practices and ensure they cover all SEMS covered tasks and operations.

* Side note. 10 out of 11 people responsible for well control and who failed to detect gas "kick" on 8 March 2010 (blowout averted, however) were on duty on 20 April 2010 when Macondo blew out.

** Side note. Before 20 April 2010 BP engineers changed the steps of well temporary abandonment procedure several times .


"Offshore" Magazine, August 2012, p46-48

Mykola Mamykin's picture

And final note in regards of SEMS:

If SEMS audit shows any non-compliance to the safety program, there could be fines imposed on the operator up to $35 000 / day until the subject is closed and, in severe cases, the whole facility could be shut down.

Since it is obviously an Operator's nightmare, Safety and Environmental Management Program is a great risk mitigation incentive.

Uchenna Onyia's picture

There are six stages in the life of a structure and all six
stages require inspection management. They are:



Fabrication of the structure

Launch and installation

Service life


In the design stage, previous designs will be reassessed to
ensure the same mistakes are not repeated. 
This include material selection, fabrication methods, installation
techniques, service life conditions and as part of integrated corrosion
management.   Computer and often scaled
models are used to demonstrate and simulate conditions.  Designs are made to accommodate lessons
learned from previous mistakes.  As
development continues, the amount of mistakes made should naturally reduce
however as has been mention during the lecturers, we also increasingly push the
boundaries and more complex designs are created which always keep us in
pioneering environment where mistakes can and do happen. 

Designs have to consider codes and statutory rules
(instruments) in the UK for example 

DCR SI 913 (1996)             Design
and Construction Regulations

PSR SI 825 (1996)              Pipeine
safety regulations

PFEER SI 743 (1995)         Prevention
of Fire, Explosion and Emergency Response

MAR SI 738 (1995)            Management
and Administration Regulations   

PUWER SI 2932 (1998)    Provision
and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (Plant and Equipment). 


The main aim of these design considerations is to reduce
risk to being ;’As Low As Reasonably Practicable’. 

 Reference: HSG48

uchenna onyia 51232632

MSc Subsea Engineering 

xenios.ze's picture

Safety issues for the LNG industry – Storage of the LNG and conversion
to its gaseous phase


Throughout the history of the LNG industry, there were no
major hazards, and mainly that is because of the reduced dangers that the
liquid has while it is stored and transfer. LNG is stored in special storage
tanks at -160 oC, (the liquefaction temperature of the natural gas),
without putting any pressure. So the pressure that is safely kept in its liquid
form is 1 atm. This results that, if a storage tank brakes or cracks and the
LNG liquid leaks to the environment, there will be no ignition or explosion,
and thus there will be no danger to the surrounding environment.

Also, when the LNG is going to be converted in to gas, it is
transferred from the special storage tanks of the ship to the tanks that the
natural gas can be stored to its gaseous phase. While the LNG is stored in the
tanks, there is natural convection from the environment and the liquid is been
heated up until it becomes gas.  When this
procedure takes place and the liquid starts to become gas, it creates a fog- a
vapor cloud- which can be igniting only if there is an ignition source. For this,
safety devices and operational procedures are intended to minimize the
probability of a release of a vapor cloud.



Xenios Zenieris

MSc Oil and Gas Engineering


Giorgos Hadjieleftheriou's picture


and Risk management in oil and gas industry

In the oil and gas industry
finding oil and supplying it is not the only concern companies have. Safety is
also a very important issue.

Every day accidents occur on
the oil rigs and also while oil and gas is being transport.

Regarding safety,
environmental issues must be concerned also. Steps should be taken for any
instrument malefaction because if any problem will take place oil and gas leak
is very pollutant.

Companies nowadays are using
a system for managing safety issues for the safety of their workers, the
company it’s self and of course the environment.

There are several ways to
ensure safety in the industry.

Trained staff should be in
charge for safety issues and monitoring the working environment. There must be
a frequent maintenance and emergency plans on oil rigs.

A good way to avoid any
accidents is to learn from previous disasters and some mistakes should be

xenios.ze's picture

Safety issues for the LNG industry – Storage of the LNG and
conversion to its gaseous phase

Inside the LNG storage tanks, the liquids that are introduced
sometimes are from different densities and for that, several layers of the liquid
are created. The liquid with the higher density goes to the bottom and the
lighter to the top. The heat from the side walls leaks inside to the top layer
and the heat from the side walls and from the bottom walls warms up the heavier
liquid. Once the heat warms up the bottom liquid, it starts to evaporate and
because of the hydrostatical pressure the vapor is superheated and may cause sudden
increase of pressure in the tank. This phenomenon is called rollover. This excess
pressure may result to crack or other structural failures of the tank and to
avoid this to happen; the density of the liquid that is introduced in the tanks
is always measured and if the density is different the liquid is unloaded
accordingly. LNG tanks have rollover protection systems, which include
distributed temperature sensors and pump-around mixing systems.




Xenios Zenieris

MSc Oil and Gas Engineering

Mykola Mamykin's picture

Is training of offshore rig personnel always adequate?

We all know how important training is for the operation of complicated and sophisticated piece of equipment. Especially when mishandling it might result in catastrophic damages.

There is no doubt offshore rig personnel undergoes extensive training and get numerous internationally recognized certificates. Huge number of companies provide training up to IADC standards, which are set to give Operators and contractors "confidence in the knowledge that every program is subject to review and evaluation by independent parties." [1].

Transocean, as the world's largest offshore drilling contractor, probably has the best and most extensively trained people in charge of well control.
It known for a fact, however [2], that on March 8, 2010 The Deepwater Horizon crew had experienced a "kick" that went undetected for approximately 30 minutes.

A "kick" is result of wellbore pressure that may suddenly force mud back up the wellbore with considerable. Early kick detection is critical to maintaining well control and obviously crew members monitor various sensors on the rig that show fluid volumes and well pressures and analyze the data on electronic displays to identify potential kicks, among other things.

BP did not conduct an investigation into the reasons for the delayed detection of the kick. Transocean personnel admitted to BP that individuals associated with the
March 8 kick had "screwed up by not catching" the kick.

Moreover, ten of the 11 individuals on duty on March 8, who had well control responsibilities, were also on duty on April 20 during Macondo blowout.

On the top of that, everyone on board the Deepwater Horizon was obligated to follow the Transocean "stop work" policy that was in place on April 20, which provided that "each employee has the obligation to interrupt an operation to prevent an incident from occurring." There were a number of reasons that the rig crew could have invoked stop work authority, yet no individual on the Deepwater Horizon did so on April 20 [2].

So the question remains - is training sufficient and adequate?

2. BOEMRE report on Macondo Blowout

a.bhardwaj.12's picture

Oil and Gas industry has evolved from a very basic setup. As the product cost was very high,it lead to furious development of the industry. Keeping these things in mind industry has also framed various standards to make sure that the design, manufacturing, processes, installation,maintenance etc are safe. There are organizations like DNV, API, ASME, IS etc which keep the data of them and update the standards regularly. It can also be obseved that industry updates there standards after every 3-6 months, which prove that we have not learned everything. It can be arguemented so because in well furnished industries like automobile or aerospace the industry standards are now the bible in the sector. Eg. DNV 2.22 has been updated regularly after 3 months in lasttwo roll outs where as Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) have there standards fixed since 1987 in terms of automotive field.  

The point where I want to throw the light is that since the "STANDARDS" which are supposed to control the Oil & Gas activities from concept to installation and then to decommissioning are still floating, which proves that all the aspects of safety and health are not fully in practice. Hence its a responsibility of the companies to carry out third party verification for them to ensure H&S.  

xenios.ze's picture


Potential health hazards due to exposure
to mercury in the oil and gas industry.


Mercury is an element that can be
found by the oil and gas process. This element can cause health hazards to anyone
that is exposed on it by inhalation, injection, ingestion or absorption through
the skin. In the oil and gas industry the mercury is removed from the other
liquids and it is carefully treated so that it can be used for other uses like switches
(such as thermostats), Transmitters, Paints and fungicides. The mercury that is
coming into the process stream can be trapped from engineering controls – which
are chemicals that absorb this element and do not let it proceed into the
processing stream.

As we mentioned before, the mercury
had potential health hazards and to avoid contact with mercury, the workers that
are unprotected must be kept far from the places where mercury vapor is
gathered in high levels. Furthermore, the workers must be educated in order to
know how to use the protective equipment from mercury and must be taught on how
they should prevent the exposure on mercury.  Finally, special equipments measure constantly
the levels of mercury in the air.





Xenios Zenieris

MSc Oil and Gas Engineering

Mykola Mamykin's picture

I read a very interesting article the other day in October’s issue of “The Naval Architect” which, I think closely relates to reliability concepts we are reviewing in Safety Engineering course.


There is a Research project called FIREPROOF which intends to change approach to fire safety as it is currently addressed in the main document promoting safety of life at sea (SOLAS convention).


SOLAS, which is applicable to Passenger / Cargo ships, Drill ships and Mobile Offshore Drilling Units uses probabilistic approach for calculation of damage stability in its Ch. II-1 , but deterministic in Ch II-2 which deals with fire safety.


The project’s objective is to develop a Risk-Based approach to fire safety, taking into consideration a number of novel designs for ships and drill ship which will emerge due to global economy downturn and resulting competition of shipbuilders.


In a nutshell, the Risk can be summarized by the formula:


fr(N)=SUM OVER n SPACES of fr(space i) x pr(space i) x pr(N/space i), where


fr(N)-frequency of N fatalities per ship-year

fr(space i) – frequency of ignition in a space i per ship-year

pr(space i) – probability of fire escalation

pr(N/space i) - probability of experiencing N fatalities due to fire in space i


Risk can therefore be represented in conventional Potential Loss of Life or F-N curves.


The researchers used a number of modern software to account for various scenarios of high and low consequences of fire ignition and escalation.


Ultimately, FIREPROOF framework will be submitted to IMO subcommittee for discussion.


More details:

Lee Soo Chyi's picture

Quote DNV “Risk
can be good. Without risk, there would be no reward

The purpose of the
risk management is not to eliminate risk, but to understand it so that you can
take advantage of the upside and minimise the downside.

Oil and gas
exploration and production activities have many hazards and hazardous events
associated with them. “Safety first” is the most common phrase used in this
industry. The oil and gas industry invests a lot of money in safety and these
investments have resulted in a steady improvement in safety performance. Of
course, accidents still happen despite this. The attention of the risk
management in oil and gas industry is focussed on safety of the personnel and
the installation, prevention of environmental damage and production regulatory.
Risk assessment, which include: risk identification, risk analysis and risk
evaluation, is a key element in a risk management process. For offshore
operations in the North Sea, performance of risk assessments is required. In
Norwegian waters, this is covered by regulations issued by Norwegian Petroleum
Directorate (NPD) and Norwegian Maritime Directorate (NMD), and in UK waters by
HSE’s safety case regulations.



Lee, SooChyi 

a.bhardwaj.12's picture

Two days earlier an unfortunate incident took place. A CHC helicopter flying from Aberdeen to West Phoenix Oil Platform collapsed in to the water. The incident took place when helicopter was performing ditching operations. It is assumed that the reason was low flying and rough sea or fuel error or anything else. The location of crash was 32 miles South-West from Shetland.

There were 19 people aboard and 3 were from Oceaneering. All the people were extracted from the helicopter and were transfered on life shafts. Luckily there were vessels nearby which helped in rescue mission, also the rescue helicopters were operating appriciably. 

All the people were safe including pilot and co-pilot and reached the mainland safe and sound today evening (24th October 2012). Oil and Gas Union is now raising question for the safety in north sea. Agencies are actively looking into the issue and helicopter is getting towed to the mainland, investigation will follow once its on the aberdeen land. 

Claire Snodgrass's picture

Some further information on the CHC helicopter incident.

A controlled ditch was performed by the pilots of the G-CHCN Super Puma EC225 LP after warnings that of a failure of the lubrication system of the main gearbox (AAIB, 2012a). First an indicator light came on warning that the duty and standby lubrication pumps had failed, then, shortly after the pilots initiated the appropriate procedure to engage the emergency lubrication system, the warning light came on that indicated the failure of the emergency lubrication system.

The investigation being carried out by the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AIBB) is still in the early stages, but initial investigation of the gearbox components has found a full 360 degree circumferential crack on the bevel gear vertical shaft within the main gearbox, near the weld joining the two parts of the shaft. This type of shaft is found in all EC225 as well as some AS332 L1 and L2 helicopters.

What is particularly important to note is that a similar ditching of the same type of Super Puma helicopter in May 2012 occurred after warnings that both the main and emergency gearbox lubrication systems failed (AAIB, 2012b). The early investigation into that incident also found a 360 degree circumferential crack on the bevel gear vertical shaft within the main gearbox (the cause is still being investigated).

Following the May incident the European Aviation Safety Agency issued an emergency airworthiness directive on AS 332 and EC 225 helicopters that required helicopter operators to check vibrational health monitoring data related to the gearbox. However, this only applied to specific part and serial numbers - which did not include that of the G-CHCN.

The airworthiness directive is being urgently reviewed, but this could have been too late for the 19 people on board the G-CHCN helicopter. Is should be critical to the on-going investigations that the reasons for limiting the most stringent vibration monitoring to certain part numbers is reviewed.

AAIB. (2012a) Special Bulletin S6/2012 - EC225 LP Super Puma, G-CHCN [Online]. Available at [Accessed 28th October 2012]
AAIB. (2012b) S3/2012 - EC225 LP Super Puma G-REDW [Online]. Available at [Accessed 28th October 2012]

Dike Nwabueze Chinedu.'s picture

and risk management in the oil and gas industry has always been a major issue
and a stand-point for major oil industry disasters. Ranging from the deepwater
horizon to the famous piper alpha accident, it has always been one of reactive
rather than proactive approach. After the "keep it flowing" people
incident, the later regulations demanded that for every installation, there
must be a document to demonstrate how risks had been identified, the nature of
the control measures to be employed and the adequacy of these measures in
providing safe working conditions. Now, the point is that the regulator who has
certified these documents will not be on the platform on daily basis to see to
the effective implementation, thus, it lies on the duty holder and its

me i would rather that these measures be carried out with all sincererity of
purpose for it is only by adherence to the principles and technologies in place
that accidents may be prevented as employers always blame major accidents on
employee sabotage.

Andrew Strachan's picture

It is easy to say that companies and regulators are "reactive" and not proactive. However it is immeasurable to quantify the number of accidents that didn't happen due to a piece of proactive legislation or implemented safety procedure.

Much of today's safety barriers and procedures result from risk based analysis using probabilities of accidents occurring. Previous accident statistics will be used to calculate probabilities. Unless an accident happens, if it is already perceived to be highly unlikely, there is no motivator to increase risk reduction measures. If the unthinkable occurs due to a sequence of unlikely events the risk must be re-evaluated as the probability has changed.

adavis's picture

Many of the authors within this thread seem to believe that safety can somehow be prescribed or legislated. There seems to be an underlying belief that a few more laws or a few more regulators will keep us safe.  It appears as if there's a desire to have an army of regulators looking over each workers shoulder ready to correct them should they stray into unsafe behaviors.  

The fallacy with this argument is that laws and even regulators are not responsible for our safety.  We are all responsible for our own safety and the safety of those around us.  Though it may seem a bit cliché, I found it to be true no matter what industry you work in.  It is normally fairly easy to spot a "safety minded" company.  They are normally the ones in which the employees drive safety from the bottom up rather than management droning on and on about their latest safety initiatives.  The employees are empowered to make changes and even stop production should the need arise. 

Mykola Mamykin's picture

Excellent point on personal responsibility in assuring safety.

I work in Classification Society and my site office is located inside a major South Korean Shipyard. HSE policy here is of utmost importance and safety record for lost time incidents is almost perfect, which is one of the reasons why customers like Stena Drilling, PDC, Maersk Drilling, Chevron, Shell and others praise it so much.

But one of the key contributors to safety in all the major Korean shipyards is people mindset. Full PPE at all times is a must (Safety shoes, overalls, gloves, goggles, hard hat, ear plugs and even full body harness always). Scaffolding constructed with highest level of integrity. Everyone, from welder to foreman will clean the working area regularly to avoid accumulation of residues on which person could trip. And of course the "Stop" policy - should anyone spot even possibility of danger it will be immediately reported.

Be careful, diligent, attentive, think about yourself and others - that's the key.

Abdulazeez Bello's picture

Safety and risk management should be legislated to ensure standard in our working Environment.

This is done by carrying out risk analysis of the system in all stages of operation: Design, Fabrication, Installation, Operation /Production and decommission. It helps to ensure that all possible failures are identified and mitigated as low as reasonably practicable, ALARP before commencement and during operation for safe and smooth running of the system.

While agreeing with Mr Adavis that employees are responsible for their safety and that of others around them, his opinion to do not take into consideration systemic failure of the system due to poor design, failure of component as a result of sharp practices or standards not being adhere to.  Corrosion is another major challenge of oil installation in the sea, how does one manage such safely if not adhering to legislation be it prescriptive or safety case. 

In conclusion, Legislations like the Offshore Safety Case Regs.2005, Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the PFEER Reg. 1995 are meant to guide our activities and the Integrity of Installations or equipment used while Working safely help reduces occupational hazard and fatalities.

adavis's picture

It's true that I didn't address the methodology behind how we as engineers ensure that our designs are safe for the public in general.  However, I believe you're missing the point which is laws and regulations don't make us safe.  When I design an apparatus or a piece of equipment, I review the safety aspects not because it's legislated but because its the right thing to do.  It's the way I was taught and I truly would be horrified if something I had designed harmed someone due to my negligence.  There are many tools I use to ensure a safe design.  However, very few of those tools are regulations or laws.  Most are simply good engineering practices.

Don't get me wrong.  I do believe legislation has a place in the world.  I wouldn't want to live in anarchy.  Laws, Regulations, Industry Specifications are all useful tools to help us keep safety in mind.  However, they do nothing to ensure safety.  Words on a piece of paper or computer won't keep you safe, unless someone chooses to review and follow them. Individuals have to decide to be safe and keep others safe.  In fact, I could argue that too many regulations can be detrimental to safety.  I'm sure we can all think of examples of regulations that have grown to the point of being incomprehensible. A regulation or law can sometimes grow to the point where it takes a team of people just to understand it.  At that point, it's not much use to us as engineers.

I truly believe every accident/injury can be avoided.  However to accomplish this, we all have to change the way we view safety.  We have to think about safety at home, at work, as we walk through the airport...

Mykola Mamykin's picture

Very interesting article can be found here:

It touches upon risks and regulations in deepwater drilling. Two authors from United States and two from Canada review current legislation in US and Canada and have a debate in the end of the paper. Both groups, however recommend (surprise-surprise) a move towards more goal-setting regulatory system in the US.

Particularly, they emphasize significant differences between these two countries in national versus regional control, in prescriptive versus goal-based regulation, in penalties imposed on companies for infractions, and in the degree of independence granted to the safety regulator

So first off - US regulatory system.

Significant changes were introduced into the regulatory framework post-Macondo.

The late Mineral Management Service (MMS), which was understaffed, having only one inspector for every 54 offshore facilities in the Gulf of Mexico Region and didn't even have a comprehensive handbook addressing inspector roles and responsibilities, was replaced by three separate federal bodies, each with clearly defined responsibilities: to collect revenues (the Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR)), to manage development (Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)), and to enforce safety precautions (Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE)).

Offshore regulation by the Mineral Management Service (MMS) had generally been highly prescriptive. There were hundreds of pages of technical requirements that offshore operators were supposed to follow on specific issues, yet with advance of drilling technologies these specific prescriptive regulations became increasingly outdated. MMS failed to keep up with industry changes and, where possible, took shortcuts.

There was also a historical weakness as part of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act Amendments of 1978 which exempted leases in the western and central Gulf from the "development and production plan" requirement and, therefore, the environmental review.

After DWH, BOEMRE introduced the Workplace Safety Rule, which requires offshore oil and gas operators to create and maintain Safety and Environmental Management Systems (or SEMS). This rule introduces performance-based standards which move away from emphasizing prescriptive regulations and toward a regulatory environment more similar to the safety case requirement in the United Kingdom.

BOEMRE also has instituted a Drilling Safety Rule and the Ocean Energy Safety Advisory Committee was created as a permanent body of experts to provide guidance on offshore safety, well containment, and spill response

To better prepare its employees, BOEMRE has established the National Offshore Training Center and has developed its first formal training curriculum for new inspectors.

However, authors emphasize that unlike in other major developed nations such as Canada, the United Kingdom, and Norway, the U.S. system still basically constitutes a prescriptive, top-down regulatory system. While this prescriptive system has some benefits, particularly as it gives the federal government the authority to specify exact requirements, it has trouble staying current in light of the rapidly changing nature of the offshore industry. Also, a strictly prescriptive approach discourages any innovation. By contrast, a goal-based system encourages operators to find better, more innovative ways to achieve safety standards.

Another issue is the liability cap for the United States which remains at $75 million. By contrast, in the United Kingdom, for example, where average penalties are also relatively low, the potential penalty for a breach is unlimited. In addition, in both Norway and the United Kingdom, serious non-fatal safety breaches can be criminal charges punishable through imprisonment of key executives.

Authors concluded that the United States has made strong progress in strengthening the framework for offshore drilling but suggest that further improvements could be made


Canadian system, which allows the provinces and territories to collect royalties; gives developmental, regulatory, and safety responsibilities to joint federal-provincial boards; and allots major decision-making power to local populations.

The boards generate guidelines, while the provincial and federal governments work together to draft amendments to legislation and regulations.

Each of the National Energy Boards is tasked with the regulatory responsibility to ensure safety, protection of the environment, and proper exploitation of the resources.
The Board has no part in the establishment or administration of royalties or taxes for any offshore activity and therefore does not promote the Industry.

After the Deepwater Horizon incident in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, the Senate of Canada concluded that the regulation of the industry is more than adequate.

It specified three Canadian advantages in particular:
- Effective January 1, 2010, Canada moved from prescriptive to goal-oriented regulation, which involves the regulator setting goals and specifying outcomes, but not the means of achieving compliance.

- The shared federal and provincial jurisdiction over the boards means that the persons most affected by drilling (the residents of the adjacent provinces) have a significant voice in decisions
- The boards have no role in the collection of royalties.


Also, a Certificate of Fitness issued by a third-party certifying authority is to operate all the equipment on a drilling installation. If a single underlying certificate or permit cannot be obtained, the Certificate of Fitness is canceled.

In final argument authors point out how difficult it will be for the US to roll-out goal setting approach.

They mention that any rapid increase in the size of a regulatory bureaucracy presents a number of risks. More staff and the fundamental restructuring of multiple departments can easily lead to organizational chaos.
Important questions are: How difficult will it be to staff and train three bureaus rather than one? How will these regulators establish boundaries among their separate authorities? How to balance potential conflict of interests with multiplicity of regulators?

Authors cast doubt on the idea of creating more regulators and emphasize, that without a structured process, there is a considerable risk that the objectives in the new goal-oriented regulation will follow the old prescribed regulations, or even change for the sake of change


t01sik12's picture

Risk is an essential part in the oil industry. Failure to manage risk can bring an end to a Project. Risk is any potential future event that may influence the achievement of a Project. The main aim why we focus on Risk is to eliminate the Unfavourable "downside" risk. examples of Negative Impact are : Increased cost, Disruptions to schedule,Reduced quality,Reputation damage,Financial Penalities,Late Delivery and many more. There are alot of Benefits to Risk Management: Example, Fosters clear understanding of challenges ahead.Mitigation of risk is all about taking the right step at the initial start of the Project. HS&E goals should be : "NO ONE GETS HURT AND NOTHING GETS HARMED" .

faizakhatri's picture

 Oil and gas industry is vast very complex sectorand development is not easy there are many risk involves like technical risk ,construction risk,technology risk, operational risk ,regulatory risk,workers risk including various types working at height, chemical exposure etc and it iscomplicated to prevent the occurrences of incident/accidents.owner,operators,contractors, and suppliers working in petroleum industry all must find innovative solutions to minimize complexity and risk in these massive undertakings, as it becomes a top priority to have all players on a project team work more closely prevent the occurrences of accidents If we Compared Incidents/accidents with past we can see that there is rapid industrial development it reflects less awareness of safety measures to workers has led to a high rate of incidents/accidents.


Faiza khatri M.Sc oil and gas engineering

Ber_Mar's picture

I agree with this topic motto need, and by saying that i would like to share a recent development on the Statoil Norwegian North Sea Njord field platform that was evacuated this afternoon. 

 Instead of trying to fix the problem with all onboard, statoil considered to be a serious matter and in my view correctly opted to minimise its risk by maintaining strictly needed personel on board to try and stabilize the problem. We cant forget that the main issue in the Nort Sea is the water temperature, which for a normal person with those temperatures should only last for 5 or 10 minutes, therefore a quick moving fleet to evacuate was taken.

 The platform started tilting because one of the tanks an acnhor ruptured on of the balast the pontoons in the quarters area ruptured and starting filling up.

Ajay.Kale's picture

Ajay Kale

Yaw Akyampon Boakye-Ansah's picture


term safety has been used to an extent that means to preclude the event of
failure. But in our world, every device, and even human life, is bound to fail.
No matter how long it takes, the life of everything comes to an end. Thus, it
has become a necessity that when one event is about to fail/end, it should not
lead to the end of other events which had a, perhaps, longer time before its

In the oil industry, much care
has been taken to ensure that certain known factors do not cause events that
are likely to bring to an end, an otherwise long-living event. There have been
major failure events that have happened in the past and these are what have
shaped the oil industry. Some of the hazards have been prepared for because
according to human and computational estimates, those were likely to happen. But
for those that there have been no previous knowledge, they are likely to be a
huge burden and more likely to happen.

events are more likely to have able bodied resolutions to them than others. But
the oil and gas industry is more reactive to major incidents. Although the
industry is quite old, it has not faced all possible hazards that are likely to
occur. In this regard, all institutions in charge of generating ideas to solve
major risks have resorted to not being “prescriptive” in their ways of handling
safety and risk.

is usually the duty of business owners to evaluate every possible hazard and
risk at a worksite so as to inform their employees the possibility of danger.
This directive is very well advised. It goes to benefit the government and also
help managers and owners of businesses to correctly protect those who are
helping them generate wealth.

from HSE Lectures, EG50S1 and EG501D.


Harrison Oluwaseyi's picture

The Oil and gas industry can be
said to be divided into three different sections i.e. upstream (exploration and
appraisal), midstream (production and transportation) and downstream (refining,
petrochemical and decommissioning).From the early days of till date, this
industry has faced and still facing various safety and risk concerns in its
various sections. Over the last four decades several accidents have occurred as
a result negligence, equipment failure, improper training of staffs etc. As a result
of these accidents, several laws have been passed in different regions in the
hope to prevent and eliminate these occurrences, despite these laws put in
place by the governments of different nations these events keep occurring e.g.
the Gulf of Mexico Oil spill in 2011 resulting in the death of 11 personnel’s.

Comparing the UK Health and
safety Legislation to that of the Norwegian government, that of the UK
government is built on a prescriptive approach i.e. it specifies the safety
measures to be carried out but does not give room for improved safety, innovation,
changing industrial processes and it requires constant updating. But that of
the Norwegian government is more of a goal setting approach i.e. it gives room
for the identification of hazards, risk assessment and taking steps to
eliminate them. This other approach has its advantages and disadvantages but it
has been a better method used to prevent the occurrence of accidents in various
industries and it has given a better result than the prescriptive method.

Going through several papers
before writing this piece, I noticed other sectors of the oil and gas industry
were neglected, there was more focus on the offshore section of the upstream
section, but this doesn’t leave out the fact that there have been several accidents
in other sections which have occurred onshore. Due to recent accidents in this
industry, I feel more countries should use the goal setting approach
legislation currently in use by the Norwegian government to reduce the amount
of accidents occurring in this industry.


1) November 2008, J.S. Munro,
"An Overview of Regulating Offshore and Onshore Major Hazards".

2) March 2011, ERM, "Sustainable
Solutions for the Oil and Gas Industry".



Liu Yishan's picture

Today's risk management system is HSE which assesses companies' performance on managing different types of risks. However, a new system may hopefully replace HSE in the future according to the report of International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (OGP). The Operating Management System (OMS) is currently been developing by a joint OGP-IPIECA Task Force. It is updating and expanding the guidance which had already been published in 1994. The OMS aims to decrease the probability of adverse consequences by providing a consistent approach to risk management by: 

Consolidating, in one place, the company's knowledge and requirements to safely and responsibly manage its assets and activities.
Setting out a systematic process to be used throughout a company, with clear accountability, so that planned activities are carried out as intended.
Measuring the success in implementing these activities.

The revised OMS guidance is planned coming out at the end of this year. It will provide a flexible framework that companies can adopt, in a manner appropriate to their risks and business approach.


William J. Wilson's picture

A very relevant comment Liu Yishan: I clicked on your link and found a mountain of information about the OMS and an iied report.

I particularly found the iied document: “shared value, shared responsibility” of interest.  It highlights that employee and contractor influence towards safety is increasing within the oil and gas industry affecting the environmental and social responsibilities of large organisations.  The future vision of this document aims towards removing the “tick-box” mentality which hinders the implementation of good practice standards.  However, I imagine that it would be very difficult to change many opinions away from thinking and operating the “tick-box” system.  This organisational change of behaviour would have to extent all the way down to the individual employees and contractors who (I have already mentioned) have a growing influence in their own methods of working. Change would be a slow process, even with our current safety culture.


William Wilson
MSc Subsea Engineering

Oluwatadegbe Adesunloye Oyolola's picture

Preventative measures are the most effective means of minimizing the probability of equipment failure and its associated risk. Protection systems are not substitutes for  well-designed and well-maintained detection, warning and shutdown systems. However, they can protect the structure and process equipment, limit damage to these facilities and prevent escalation of fire.

Examples of Risk reduction measures implemented on existing installations include; prevention, detection, control, mitigation, and EER (Evacuate, Escape
and Rescue).

For risks lying below the maximum tolerable, but above the broadly acceptable level, it is expected that:

1.     the nature and level
of risks are properly assessed and the results used properly to determine control measures;

2.    the residual risks are not unduly high and kept ALARP; and

3.    the risks are periodically reviewed to ensure that they still meet the ALARP criteria.

Duty holders should not assume that if risks are below the maximum tolerable level, they are also ALARP. This should be demonstrated through:

1.     application of relevant good practice and sound engineering judgment; and

2.    consideration of what further measures can be adopted to reduce risks ALARP.

In essence, the duty holder’s ALARP demonstration should address the question “What more could I do to reduce risks, and why haven’t I done it?”

The degree of rigor of the ALARP demonstration should be proportionate to the level of risk associated with the installation.

In choosing between design options, duty holders should:

1.     consider risks throughout the whole life-cycle of the project;

2.    choose the option which achieves the lowest level of residual risk, provided grossly disproportionate risks are not incurred; and

3.    confirm that the residual level of risk is no greater than that achieved by the best of existing practice for comparable functions.



Adesunloye-Oyolola O.

MSc Oil and Gas Engineering

Kwadwo Boateng Aniagyei's picture

management of safety and risk in the oil industry is an issue of great concern.
With public concerns and activities of various pressure groups; there has been
a drive in the industry to achieve near to perfect safe operations. This I believe
can happen by practicing a safety and maintenance culture. Safety Culture is
seen by many as a way of ensuring high levels of safety performance in
organisations, in contrast to the systematic engineered management of hazards
and effects. They are mostly defined by values, beliefs, common working
practices and response to unusual situations. However, the development of
safety culture experiences so many obstructions and I discuss a few of them

CULTURES: The levels of bureaucracy and red-tapes that exist in the oil
industry and health and safety regulations pose a great challenge which most
people are oblivious of. An organisation that has struggled to become proactive
may easily revert, especially in the face of success. At such levels of success
and development, hierarchical structures begin to break down under high tempo
operations. This is mostly experienced when an organisation tries to transit
from ‘reactive to generative’.

AND THE LAW: This may come as a surprise to most of us but the regulator is
also a form of barrier. Regulators are more inclined to the ‘letter than the
spirit of the law. This can mean that regulators will not support experimental
improvements, which is typical of a proactive industry. Rather, they may set
high standards which are hard to meet and this can be an obstacle for safety
culture progress.

FAILURE: A cultural change is very drastic and doesn’t happen overnight.
Changes in top management may prevent the advancement of safety culture in an
organisation as priorities may also change.

IS HARD: It is very difficult for personnel to accept new situations which are
different from the normal standard procedures of operation. This makes it
impossible for a new convention or code of practice to implemented or enforced,
or in most cases take longer periods before they are incorporated into the
operating procedures.

practice of a well organised safety culture will to a very large extent manage
risk in the oil and gas industry. Though this may at times prove difficult and
costly, a good management practice can ensure they are well enforced.



Brenda Amanda's picture

I recently attended an SPE
organised event where one of the Rig Managers at Archer Ltd. shared some of the
practices the operators emphasise to improve safety and reduce risk in the
risk-prone environment that they work. 

Below are the points he
highlighted and referred to as ‘Focusing on Tempo’


  • Adjust the pace of operations to fit the least
    proficient member
  • Operate within the limits and capacity of the
  • Make the time to carry out necessary inspections
    and maintenance
  • All tasks shall be risk assessed, planned and discussed
    by everyone involved


The reason I bring this up is
because we have been so focused on what has not been done and are not appreciative
of the fact that with every setback or accident, the industry learns and puts
measures in place to make sure the occurrence of these unfortunate incidents is
not repeated.

The point to drive home from the
above listed points is this: In the everyday operation of the oil and gas
production facilities, the workers and everyone involved realises the eminent
risks associated with their operations. Therefore extra care and caution is
taken by every member of the team because one slip-up could lead to a potential

While regulations are made, it is
very important to remember that the observance of these to the letter by all
involved is the key to minimising the occurrence of accidents and improved

Ekaterina Pavlichenko's picture

I see that all my colleagues have with enthusiasm covered much of the aspects of Safety in the Oil and Gas Industry and I’d like to briefly refer to the safety training of the individual worker within this industry.

The minimum safety requirements are covered by the acronym ‘MIST’; this is the Minimum Industry Safety Training and the expectation is that all workers are trained to competently undertake their professional duties, while being fully aware of the following main points with respect to safety:

1) To understand the hazards of working in an off shore environment

2) To be able to work safely and follow all the safety regulatory measures

3) To be able to assess the risks involved with their work

4) Understanding the permit to work system

5) A working knowledge of platform integrity

6) Manual handling

7) Control of Substances hazardous to health (COSHH)

8) Working at height

9) Mechanical lifting.

These points are often referred to as the 9 Elements of MIST.

Ekaterina Pavlichenko's picture

More advanced training covers Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training, known by the acronym ‘BOSIET’, this covers how to exit a helicopter in an emergency situation, known as HUET, training of personal survival in emergency situation, training to use Totally Enclosed Motor Propelled Survival Crafts or life boats (TEMPSC) and life rafts, how to provide first aid following an escape, basic knowledge on how to fight fires using fire extinguishers and self-rescue breathing apparatus and training on Emergency Breathing Systems (EBS)

This training usually takes place over a period of time and the expectation is not that the new employee will be fully BOSIET trained prior to commencing work; however this should be completed at the earliest opportunity. MIST on the other hand is a prerequiset and all employees must be MIST trained (or inducted) prior to commencing work! 

farman oladi's picture

Some common factors are sheared in Major Accidents:

The general values and the approach to safety and risk management. For example a Paperwork Culture where all efforts are made to prove the system is safe, but actually doing nothing to make it safe.

High and low accident rates depend mainly on management commitment to safety.

Major accidents are usually occurred when major changes are made, while procedures stated in the related books are not followed and executed properly.

Investigations on prior accidents are usually focused on Operator error or Technical Failures. Management and systematic factors are usually ignored. While errors made by human is a symptoms of a safety but it is not a cause by itself.

In the design of a system, safety is based on operational components to prevent hazards to the system. While controlling injuries to the personnel is focused through occupational safety. While the combination of both factors will be at risk as safety hazard.

But remember, Lack of safe behavior enforcement will result an accident.


The safety risks in oil and gas
industry mainly consist of explosion caused by fire, leakage of toxic substance
and pungent odour by chemical reaction. For facilities for oil and gas industry
work under high pressure and high temperature, there exists great fatalness for
fire and explosion to occur, so fire and explosion is high potential risk for
factories and surroundings. Most of the chemical materials for refinery are
toxic and any leakage by equipment malfunctions or disoperation could result in
people venenation.  Pungent odour means
that the stench from chemical materials and catalysts for crude oil exploration
and refinery may be connected with the chronic harm to operators.

Justice J. Owusu's picture

Accidents hardly originate from just single cause. What we see when an accident happens is the event that finally occurs at the time of the accident, such as component failures and human errors. Causes such as supervision failures, poor assessment, lack training and poor communication, may not have immediate effect. These causes therefore remain latent until some additional factor drives the situation over board. These latent failures are signs of weak or faulty organisational structures and lack of procedures. Key steps in safety management therefore are prudent hazard identification, assessing the hazards and making sure the appropriate policies and procedures are implemented, proper supervision, training and above all commitment of management to reduce the related risk.

Justice J. Owusu's picture

The main objective of safety management in any industry is to address the cause of accident and take action to break the accident causation link. This can be achieved by identifying and preventing potential failures through hazard identification, analysis of the hazard, devising control measures, implementing the control measure and monitoring it. It is important to periodically review the whole prevention measure to assess its effectiveness vis-à-vis the accident records before and after the implementation. Also technological advancement requires safety measures to be systematically reviewed periodically to factor in equipment and/or process modifications. The success of safety and risk management greatly depends on employers’ or management commitment to safety and communication. For example, a decision which requires resource allocation for personnel training can only be implemented with the consent of the employer/management.

Michail.Sevasteiadis's picture

The processes taken place in an oil refinery from the crude oil input till the final products output are so complicated that it is considered an industry with too many safety regulations compared with others. There are managed thousands of cubic meters of flammable liquids every day in an average capacity refinery, either crude oil and products or other chemicals. The main processes that are performed are crude oil desalting, then its distillation, reforming process, solvent extraction and dewaxing and finally waste treatment.

Analyzing the dangers, first of all should be considered the crude oil and its products sensitivity to any flame source with the continuous fear of igniting a major accident after leakage during the process. Some hydrocarbon gases are denser than air and tend to be concentrated into the refinery’s drainage system, into pits or any underground areas and access to those places require safety measures to be taken. Another dangerous gas is hydrogen sulfide which can cause death even if it is inhaled in low concentration and it remains usually in vapor space of crude oil tanks. In addition, other dangerous gases produced or used in a refinery are hydrogen which is explosive, inert gas which can cause lack of oxygen, carbon monoxide which is poisonous, chlorine which is fatal, pyrophoric iron sulfide which is extremely flammable and many other process chemicals.

As we can understand from the above concise analysis the safety procedures must be strictly followed by the refinery’s personnel every day in every routine job otherwise the probability of a major accident is highly increased.


1)National Center for Manufacturing Sciences. Petroleum Refining Impacts, Risks and Regulations.
2) Numaligarh Refinery Limited. Safety Manual of Oil Refinery.

Maxwell Otobo's picture

The oil and gas industry is known to be a multifaceted global industry which makes a huge impact on all aspects of our lives. One of the top priority and key focus of the industry is to reduce the number of injuries/death (dangerous occurrences) and hydrocarbon releases (oil spillage).

Health, safety and environmental issues have risen enormously in the oil and gas industry's agenda which reflects both increased pressure by the society/public and more complex operational challenges faced in the industry.

Although the industry generally works with high pressure, high temperature and flammable fluids and in some cases at very hostile operating environments,  it has been discovered that for the past few years as compared with other industries such as construction, mining and transport, the oil and gas industry safety's performance has been better.

For example, in 2009, the hours of work across the industry rose, and and a 26% improvement in lost time injury frequency rate (LTIFR) was recorded as well as an 11% improvement in total recordable injury frequency rate (TRIFR) (1).

Also, in terms of safety management issues, the areas where all regulated oil and gas companies must look into and invest both effort and resources in order to ensure continual improvement of safety and environmental protection include;

1. Corporate leadership and safety culture - the company's senior leaders should be responsible for overseeing the safety of the company's operation which is vital to the society. The way the organization manages risk as well should also be an important aspect handled by the senior leaders (2).

2. Effectiveness of management systems - the responsibilities of individuals to ensure the organization's safety, security and environmental protection goals are achieved, should be clearly communicated by the company's management system(2).




Dike Nwabueze Chinedu.'s picture

Safety and risk management approach is largely goal-oriented in the offshore oil and gas sector. This means that high level performance is required in specifics and various types of analysis method carried out to spot the best possible arrangements and the key performance indicators for measurement of success is pre-agreed upon. These places on one hand the duty of care on the duty holders and on the other hand personal responsibility on the employees as well for their own safety. One of the main challenges is the concept of acceptable risk criteria.

I believe that the introduction of pre-determined acceptable risk criteria may give the wrong focus – meeting these criteria instead of an overall whollistic approach towards identifying everything that may go wrong and taking a cost effective measure to its solution. This will involve: identifying the relevant decision attributes (costs, safety, health, hazard); dealing with uncertainties at different project phase; balance between project risk and management portfolio; formulation and use of goals; criteria and requirements to stimulate performance and ensure acceptable safety standards; use of cautionary principles like the ALARP.

Thus, the focus should be on meeting overall safety objective which should be stipulate using observable quantities (such as the frequency of occurrence of a particular type of accident no matter how small it may seem) 

Aven T. and Vinnem J.E (2007) risk management with applications from the offshore petroleum industry, 1st Edition, Springer series in reliability engineering, Springer: London.

a.bhardwaj.12's picture

As per a blog article on professional societies the feed was stating that: The young engineers who step in to industry tend to find the easy way. As the company procedures and standards are difficult to follow than the bookish calculations, hence they have a denial tendency towards the standards. 

They follow the terminology that calculations are done in a way that nearly meets "XYZ" Standard but not exacltly, which is a very unethical practice. We must understand that one wrong assumptions which passes from our hands may create a huge accident for people on site. 

a.bhardwaj.12's picture

As Oil and Gas industry is developing at a very faster rate hence the scope of the standardization industry is also expanding at same rate. Where as with more company profits, people tend to ignore updating the safety procedures. But its the good fortune of the industry that controlling societies like DNV, API, LLoyd's etc. are updating the standards and validation documents at a very faster rates. 
Recently Det Norske Veritas has updated its offshore procedure control documents and classified the structures into various categories which gives a very good control to design and approval professionals to do their job more accurately. Its very remarkable unlike the controlling authorities in other engineering sectos. 

Ikechukwu Onyegiri's picture

In relation to oil and gas safety the recent incident that took place on an oil platform operated by Black Elk energy in the Gulf of Mexico can be said to be one of senior managerial negligence to safety conduct. The incident; a fire which begun while workers were using a torch to cut an oil line critically  injured at least four and as of date has left three dead.

Coming from reports this is  the fourth incident associated with Black Elk in nearly two years with recent incidents drawing heavy fines including a suit being filed against them (March 2012) by a rig worker for "creating unreasonably dangerous conditions on the platform".

In September 2011, the company paid a fine of $307,500 after the Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management found that Black Elk let a well go longer than the required six months without being tested for leakage.

In February 2011, a battery charger caused a fire on a Black Elk rig in the Gulf of Mexico when the battery shorted. 

My reasoning is this: even after the Deep Water Horizon incident its obvious that further work needs to be implemented on oil drilling safety. Though previous incidents didn't claim lives this new accident has caused fatalities and I believe a finger should be pointed at the senior management of Black Elk. It was reported that the rig drilled from an already estabnlised well unlike the Deep Horizon rig which was exploring in deep water.

So far no evidence of oil spills relating directly to the incident has been reported but in the light of this one will have to ask if the required regulatory bodies didn't carry out proper inspection on the oil lines before welding began. Reports say that production seized as of mid-August and the oil which ignited the fire was that trapped within the pipeline network thus pointing fingers to the inspection unit for not complying with the set hydrocarbon content limit in pipelines before any welding job can take place.

Well I can't be too sure as to why the company exposed the lives of these rig workers to such hazards but whatever reason it might be it sure will have a demeaning effect on the face of Black Elk and even more on the Safety Regulatory bodies considering the short time lapse between this and the Macondo incident. Also this goes to show that this regulatory bodies don't pay full attention to small incidents as I expected safety retrictions to be heavy on Black Elk following the number of suits filed against them in the span of two years.


Ikechukwu Onyegiri

Msc Oil and Gas Engineering

Leziga Bakor's picture

Safety and risk management in the oil and gas sector is one of the very important aspects in the industry as accidents in the sector affects people’s property, health and the environment.  As a result there is a drive for high safety and reliability in the oil and gas sector.  Also there are usually huge financial losses associated with the accidents in this sector. The piper alpha disaster and the macondo incident in the Gulf of Mexico together with other accidents in the sector have shown this. Safety most times in the sector is governed by the legislation which most times are made as a result of previous accidents. The legislation can be prescriptive or goal setting. The prescriptive legislation prescribes the exact actions to be taken to ensure safety in certain situations while the goal setting legislation ensures that each hazardous situation is individually analysed and the best preventive steps taken to ensure safety.
Risk management has to do with risk analysis and decision analysis. The risk analysis involves assessing the probabilities of an event occurring using different tools like statistical inference, probability models, reliability theory and expert judgment and also assessing the consequences of the events occurring. With the risk analysis done, different decision to reduce the impact of the accident event are analysed and the best decision taken to manage the risk. This is how risk is managed in the oil and gas sector.

A number of hazardous risks are inherent in oil and gas operations. Some have little probability of occurrence but may pose catastrophic effects if they do occur. For example, the BP oil spillage in the Gulf of Mexico. Safety and operational risks in occurrence may impact the oil company's cash flows, financial position, prospected projects, goals, and liquidity. Key safety and operational risks include:
Process, personnel safety, and environmental risks
Oil and gas companies are faced with an extensive range of health, safety, security and environmental risks due to the nature of the business. Materialization of any of these risks could lead to legal action and financial loss as well as injure the company's reputation. This category of safety and operational risk encompass risks posed by natural disasters as well as technical systems failure which could cause loss of containment of hazardous fluids leading to fires and explosions. Thus, failure to offer safe working environments for employees and general public could give way to regulatory actions and legal liabilities.
Furthermore, due to the uncontrollable location of exploitable reserves, oil and gas operations may be carried out in environmentally sensitive locations which are protected by strenuous environmental and safety laws. Therefore, the effects of a spill, explosion, and other hazardous incidents in such locations may prompt sanctions such as penalties, and even the risk of revoking the licence to operate in that and subsequent locations .
Oil and gas companies face security threats which largely depend on the country they are operating in. Nonetheless, acts of violence, sabotage, terrorism and disruption of property act to impede and delay operations of companies. Breaches in security are more common in developing countries and could also arise due to political unrest. Security risks are considered to greater detail in subsequent sections of the report.
Product quality
Oil companies risk harming and losing customers as well as polluting the environment if they fail to meet the quality specifications of their products. In such a scenario could lead the company to incur sanctions from regulatory bodies as well as some degree of financial loss.

Also, transportation of produced hydrocarbons involves grave risks. Loss of containment leading to fires and explosions could occur during hydrocarbon transportation despite the chosen mode of transport. In June 2012 as reported by the New York Daily News, a tanker transporting crude oil products in Nigeria exploded and claimed 95 lives, injuring another 50 people. A similar event occurred in Congo claiming 200 lives. This reveals the level of risk involved in transporting oil products and the severity of the potential impact of such risks occurring.
Kuma Mede

Leziga Bakor's picture

Safety in the oil and gas sector is measured using certain safety indicators. Some of which includes: Fatal accident rate, serious injury rate, individual risk, lost time injury frequency rate, annual fatality rate, potential loss of life and societal risk. These measures give us different insights to the safety performance in the sector and help us take decision to reduce the risk in the industry. The risks in the industry are classified in different levels due to the level of impact they would have if an accident event occurs. In the industry, each risk is reduced to a region of ALARP which is as low as reasonably practicable. This is the region where the risk is tolerable only if cost of risk reduction is grossly disproportionate to the improvement gained by spending the money to reduce the risk. If there is a risk which cannot be reduced and its probability of occurrence is high and it has a high negative impact, then, the risk cannot be justified and is avoided. Also in the industry, the risk assessment matrix is used to determine the level of safety.

Kingsley ENEM's picture

The identification of safety culture as a main contributor to industrial accidents has started to have a deep effect on the way risk and safety are managed within the oil and gas industry. It proposes that the occurrence of accidents can be projected on the basis of certain factors that are suggestive of the organisation's ‘state of safety'.
Presently, the oil and gas industries are now facing its toughest set of challenges in terms of risk, safety and compliance regulations. Today's corporations (oil & gas industry) are not just weighed on their economic performance but also on their capability to manage many different types of risks. A robust track record in managing these risks and providing safety measures are frequently mentioned as an indicator of a well-run company. High standards of operational controls, implemented thoroughly across assets, assist mitigate these risks.
The current Macondo blow out incident in the Gulf of Mexico has conveyed sharp emphasis the need of the oil and gas industry to effectively identify and manage the risk from major accidents. Delivering effective key hazards management has never been easy, and the consequences for failure, in terms of impact on human, reputation and assets are becoming more extreme.
Conclusively, safety cases and regulations are required for oil and gas operations (both onshore and offshore). The principal aim of the regulation is to lessen the risk from major accident hazard, to the health and safety of the workers employed. The Safety case is a document that gives confidence to both the duty holder and HSE that the duty holder has the capability and means to control major accident risks effectively.



amir masoud bayat's picture

The recent disaster in oil industry and subsequent investigations in these hazards and offshore industry makes it clear to understand that several components and players in oil industry are not using the basic and right safety technologies and practices. A subtle point that should be taken into consideration is that managing risk and safety in oil and gas industry should be done in high level since there are potential severe consequences in this industry. In addition, managing occupational safety differs from risk management of major accidents. Quantitative Risk Assessments/Analyses (QRAs) which identifies and describes barriers in risk analysis are used for risk management in the Oil and Gas industry.Risk management in an approach which involves a formal process for analyzing, identifying and responding to risk events through the period of the life a project, achieve acceptable degree of risk control. Also, it tackles both insurable and uninsurable risks.References: Middle East Oil and Gas Show and Conference, Mar 12 - 15, 2005 2005, Kingdom of BahrainMerna, T, (2002) summarises risk management

amir masoud bayat's picture

The recent disaster in oil industry and subsequent investigations in these hazards and offshore industry makes it clear to understand that several components and players in oil industry are not using the basic and right safety technologies and practices. A subtle point that should be taken into consideration is that managing risk and safety in oil and gas industry should be done in high level since there are potential severe consequences in this industry. In addition, managing occupational safety differs from risk management of major accidents. Quantitative Risk Assessments/Analyses (QRAs) which identifies and describes barriers in risk analysis are used for risk management in the Oil and Gas industry.Risk management in an approach which involves a formal process for analyzing, identifying and responding to risk events through the period of the life a project, achieve acceptable degree of risk control. Also, it tackles both insurable and uninsurable risks.References: Middle East Oil and Gas Show and Conference, Mar 12 - 15, 2005 2005, Kingdom of BahrainMerna, T, (2002) summarises risk management

Oghenekevwe Ovbije's picture

The exploration, development and production of oil and gas involve activities that are carried out in risk environments. Overtime, major and minor accidents from safety related issues such as fatalities, severe injuries, loss of properties etc has occurred in the industry; this occurrence has aided formation of sterner safety regulations in the industry.
Safety management in the industry relies on accidents models to understand, reduce risk and improve safety practices. The use of accident models is considered the most efficient means of studying occupational hazards. There are various types of accidents models that can be used namely:

•Early Accident Model – provides the process of accident occurrence.
•Quantitative and Statistical Accident Model – provides the entire estimate of accident likelihood
•Comparison Model – used to compare conditions in a case system with existing/ongoing reference system.
•Swiss Cheese Model

Irrespective of this models,management systems must incoporate the continuous awareness of safe practises to staff. 

Abiaziem Davidson's picture

Safety and Risk Management is challenge oil and gas industry must contend with an array of health and environmental concerns throughout its range of operations. In the face of increasing regulatory oversight, as well as increased public scrutiny, oil and gas industry need to implement effective safety management systems to help protect its workers, the general public and the environment. The approach that works well at an offshore installation may not be the best option for a refinery. An effective risk management system needs to offer solutions tailored not only to the industry, but also to the specific company and the sectors in which it operates.

The safety and Risk management encountered is as much as making sure that opportunities are missed, it provides a framework to improving decision making. It involves identifying risks, predicting how probable they are and how serious they might become, deciding what to do about them and implementing these decisions. Safety and Risk analysis and subsequent risk mitigation provides financial information to potential lenders, promotes equity providers for project scenario. It improves project or business planning by answering what if questions with imaginative scenarios. Safety and risk management in oil and gas industry provides alternative plans and appropriate contingencies and consideration concerning management as part of risk response. Decisions are supported by thorough analysis of the data and estimate can be made with greater confidence both technical and financial. 

Safety and Risk management in oil and gas industry is one of the most important issues facing oil and gas organisation today. Safety and Risk management can be considered as the sustainability of a business in the environment it is in. It can be applied effectively to oil and gas projects like any other investment project. The results of risk and safety analysis, both sensitivity and probability can identify the quantitative effect on a project economics should such risk occur. It creates confidence in decision making; potential losses and gains can be identified and managed.

Common factors that cause major accidents in Oil and Gas Industry are: lack of safety culture among the workers, lack of real commitment to safety by supervisors, inadequate hazard analysis (example Job Safety Analysis) and design for safety, Inadequate learning from prior events, confusion between occupational and system safety and belief that process accidents are low probability.


Leveson .N.G (2011), ‘Risk management in the oil and gas industry [online] available at [accessed on 8 December]

Justice J. Owusu's picture

earlier submission leads me to identification of one of the functions of safety and risk management. For safety and risk management implementation in an industry to be successful a safety policy and procedure in place – this is a corporate statement and guidelines, documented, that clearly expresses the employer’s or management commitment to safety in the industry. The statement must clearly define the safety goals of that industry. The policy must state the importance of safety in all aspect of the industry’s operations. It must identify individually, the hierarchy of personnel with corporate responsibility right from the board level, and it must clearly describe the safety standard established.  It must also indicate employer’s readiness to provide the necessary resource in terms of funds and time to promote safety. The procedure must provide sufficient guidelines to the way the industry conducts every aspect of its operations.

Justice J. Owusu's picture

In addition to safety policy and procedure, other functions of safety and risk management are:

1.    Cordial management/labour interaction – A two way communication at all level must be
established. This will encourage good safety culture in that industry.

2.  Effective hazard management mechanism – There must be a prudent hazard identification
system, risk assessment and a commitment to fully implement preventive and
mitigating actions. There must be a way of measuring and reviewing the
effectiveness of this mechanism.

Safety appraisal – A means of monitoring and
reviewing safety performance over a period of time. This should answer
questions like; has the safety plan been adopted, fully implemented? Is it
achieving its goals? Is it improving the safety performance of the organization?

talal slim's picture

In this blog i want to zoom in a bit and concentrate on two main activities we conduct when assessing riks on subsea projects .

1) Technical Risk Analysis:

On each subsea project , a Technical risk analysis is performed  by Contractors for all the items (system/subsystem/equipment) part of their supply, with the objective to identify, assess and mitigate the technical risks that could impact system availability and production efficiency. This study is used to feed into  the Maturity Assessment required for determinining the  Qualification tests required on the project.

2) Operational risk analysis :
A specific operational risk analysis is  performed by Contractors, in order to systematically investigate all potential risks that could occur in operation on Subsea Facilities, during the installation phase (including transportation), offshore operations (including commissioning, inspection and maintenance) and normal production (for technical risks occurring during operations).

For each risk, Contractors  determine cause / consequence / frequency / criticality, and propose specific mitigation actions  in order to minimise the impact of the identified risk.

The operational risk analysis  consider the following parameters:

a) Main operational phases

b) Subsea installation and Tie-in,

c) Commissioning,

d) Intervention / Maintenance.

e) Normal production (including “start-up” and “shut down”).

Main risks categories considered are :

1) Production impact of the failure

2) Equipment damage

3) Severe injury or Fatality,

4) Hydrocarbon and/or chemical release to sea.

Claire Snodgrass's picture

Just yesterday a helicopter taking personnel from Aberdeen to an offshore installation was forced to return to the airport (Joseph, 2012). This comes not long after the ditching of a helicopter in the North Sea (please refer to my previous post for details). Discussing the issue with friends and family it seems that these high profile incidents have made some people believe that travelling by helicopter is very risky and something they wouldn't like to do. This got me thinking, is the actual risk of helicopter travel the same as the perceived risk?

An HSE (2004) safety review of offshore helicopter use compared the fatality rates for different types of transport over the period 1992 - 2001. The fatal accident rate for offshore helicopter travel was 4.3 per billion passenger kilometres, which is roughly on a par with travel by car with a fatal accident rate of 3. Rail transportation is effectively ten times safer with only 0.04 fatalities per billion passenger kilometres, and air (fixed wing) travel even safer with a fatality rate of only 0.01. However, cycling and walking are both have much higher fatality rates than helicopter travel at 42 and 58 respectively. Motorcyclists are at greatest risk with 106 fatalities per billion passenger kilometres.

Over the period 1995 to 2002 the fatal and non-fatal accident rates per 100,000 flying hours in the UK continental shelf region were 0.14 and 1.10 respectively. This is much lower than the equivalent worldwide rates of 0.57 for fatal accidents and 1.10 for non-fatal accidents. So it can be seen that the helicopter travel in the UK is safer than the global average.

Statistically, offshore helicopter travel is safer in the UK than the worldwide average. Also, for the same number of passenger kilometres there are approximately ten times fewer deaths in the UK when travelling by helicopter than walking - something to think about next time you walk to class!


Joseph, A. (2012). ‘Helicopter makes emergency landing at Aberdeen Airport', Evening Express, 08 December Evening Express [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 09 December 2012].
HSE (2004). UK Offshore Public Transport Helicopter Safety Record (1976 - 2002) [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 28 October 2012].

Manuel Maldonado's picture

Following all comments (positive and no positive approaches) in this forum I would say that the effectiveness of safety and risk management in the oil and gas industry and the roles of the parties involved in this process are questionable subject. This argument being based the major accidents the industry has experienced such as: the Piper Alpha disaster 1988, Texas City refinery explosion 2005, Gulf of Mexico oil spill 2010, and the Venezuelan refinery explosion 2012. All of them resulted in more than hundred casualties and material damages. This is an indication that although investigations have been carried out and actions taking to improve safety culture and new regulations have been developed, the industry still need to make a significant improvement in safety and risk management. Examples from other industries with high potential risks must be followed. Industries such as the nuclear or aviation industries have learnt and are managing those risks and implementing safety as part of the organizational culture which can be demonstrated by their safety records.

Certainly something is not going well in this process of managing risk and safety in this industry. It would mainly due to different causes such as organizational, cultural and regulatory issues. Some of the players are not fulfilling their roles leaving some gaps which have affected the effective implementation of the safety and risk management process.

The gaps of this process result from people failing to apply proper designs for safety or follow procedures or there are not policies to reinforce these processes. There are some organizations in which the safety culture does not have strong basis or lacks of appropriate safety engineering concepts. Other organizations have those strong bases, but either there is not commitment and ownership or lack or reinforcement and responsibility to use them. On the other hand, there are some organizations that have those strong policies and a safety culture which is implemented, followed and reinforced within the organization resulting in a continuous improvement process for recognising and assessing risks and managing safety.

Some of the main causes identified in the oil industry which have resulted in failing to implement the risks and safety management are: lack of commitment of leaders and employees to use safety and risk management as part of their culture, lack of implementing effective management of change processes or sometimes a no existence of them at all, inadequate learning and reporting systems to disseminate the learnings and improve the safety awareness, inadequate risks assessments or paperwork cultures with not effective implementation of mitigations, lack of enforcements of safe behaviours, safety policies and standards, lack of sense of liabilities and weakness on regulatory control and reinforcement.

Things can be as good or as bad as we want to see them, however, most important is to think about the ways how we can encourage the use of safety and risk management processes. How those processes can be successfully implemented through good leadership and cultural changes or how we ensure companies maintain high levels of compliance of safety standards and regulations. All those initiatives can be implemented by:

  • Increasing awareness through policies and formal training and certification.
  • Implementing effectively incident investigation techniques.
  • Ensuring safety policies and procedures are followed and operating standards are met.
  • Using a formal and probe system for management of change.
  • Creating liability through new regulations and official control.


Thomas James Smith's picture

Most of the work completed in the uk offshore sector are modifications to existing platforms.  As such there is a requirement to assess the impact to the existing platform by conducting continuous reviews form concept through to final installation and commissioning.  

The normal process (non fast track jobs) is to complete a concept select study, then into Front End Engineer and Design (taking one of the concepts forward) through detail engineering and design into fabrication and construction to final commissioning and hand over.

The normal approach is to have a Hazard management plan for the project that details how the project is going to manage the hazards through the project life cycle by Environmental identification and design reviews, risk assessments, and regulatory compliance demonstration.

Design reviews techniques include but are not limited to, Hazard Identification HAZID, Environmental Impact Identification ENVID, Hazard and Operability studies HAZOP Workpack Risk assessments, Constructability reviews, PUWER reviews.

Thomas James Smith's picture

During the Concept stage and dependant on the information available it is useful to complete course HAZID’s, ENVID’s, Inherently safe design (ISD) reviews. During FEED you’d look at Fire and Gas philosophies, Blast design philosophies, HAZID’s, ENVID’s, ISD (better to conduct ISD workshop as early as possible so that the outcomes can be incorporated into the design), HAZOP’s (May be better to leave to the end of FEED start of Detail Design so that the design is mature enough to review), any fire blast studies should be kicked of to allow the outputs to be affectively incorporated into the design.  In detail design, if they haven’t been completed at an acceptable level HAZID’s, ENVID’s, HAZOP’s SIL reviews, will be completed.

With a Hazard Management plan in place and completed during the complete lifecycle of a project it is expected that measures will be in place to manage all hazardous associated with the project.

Tilak Suresh Kumar's picture


Dynamic Risk Assessment (DRA) is
a new concept focuses on managing risks in a dynamic environment clearly has
its place in a dynamic industry like oil and gas industry. It is important for organisations
to recognise that work environment do change and some changes may occur at a
high frequency or with some degree of unpredictability. DRA is not an exclusive
tool but should be incorporated into a broader risk management programme. DRA
is largely an on the spot decision making process and should be considered for
managing dynamic situations in which the employee may find themselves in. Thus DRA
relies heavily on the behaviour and competency of personnel and part of making
the personnel competent relies on received and past experience.



Ernest Appiah's picture

Factors such as severe
temperatures and pressures within the Oil and Gas industry are some of the
leading causes of major risks and its attendant consequences. The size and the
complexity of the Oil and Gas facilities are also contributing factors to the
risks.  Also playing a part are the more
inhospitable routines, deeper waters and colder climates.

Mitigation processes
have been put in place by the industry to avoid the severe negative
consequences from major accidents. Some companies have rigorous process in
place to identify major hazards, and assess and manage the risks if it occurs.
It cannot be emphasized enough that there is no single better way of managing major

Several health and
safety measures, operational management systems are being adopted by the
industry in order to deliver good safety and operational performances.

Ryan Grekowicz's picture

Working as a project manager in the oil and gas industry is basically 95% risk management, and rightfully so.  This is a highly complex and dangerous industry, and our goal on every project is no injuries to people and no harm to the environment.  In order to accomplish this goal, risk management has to always be on the mind of the project manager.  This is especially true when managing project on the bottom of the ocean.

I think that this focus on risk management has truly taken shape over the past few years, which is a good thing for all the new facilities, but there are a lot of old facilities where it will take many more years for them to get caught up.

I have been a project manager in this industry for approximately 7 years and have managed about 25 different projects, with a total expenditure exceeding $250 million, and not one of my projects have been to increase production, but instead they were mitigating a risk of one form or another.  

I know the industry has a bad reputation regarding safety, but I've witnessed first hand all the time and money which is spent on a daily basis in order to try to produce oil and gas in a safer manner.   

Justice J. Owusu's picture

Safety and risk management can,
to a great extent, be influenced by the attitude of workers in an organisation.
It has been clearly debated that risks are defined in cultural terms. As people
mingled with others, they accept the definition of risk by their association
with group(s) within the organisation. To become a member of a group within the
organisation requires conformity. Meaning a member who refuses to conformity is
counteracted and shunned. The desire to be accepted and respected is the pressure
behind yielding to this demand. Usually this happens unconsciously due to lack
of knowledge, information and advice. The values and norms of the association/union/group
form the basis for the apparent realities of their members.

ZHANGYANAN's picture


Thomas James Smith's picture

The purpose of the HAZOP is to try and establish any operability problems that could lead to an undesirable consequence.  The process system is reviewed systematically, dividing it into discrete nodes an analysing against guidewords that have been agreed in a pre-determined Terms of Reference. 

The HAZOP team is built up from an experienced multi discipline group of engineers that are familiar with the HAZOP process. 

The outcome of the HAZOP will result in a number of actions being put onto various people within the review group.  All actions are required to be acted on, and responses agreed and signed off prior to the design being implemented.  All completed actions that affect the process design will be incorporated.

JIEFU's picture

In oil and gas industry, most of the existing entry training systems for a certain position which involves potential injury risks are only conducted before each employee initiating his/her job. But according to some statistics, a considerable portion of injuries related with lack of awareness of mistakes during working and wrong operating habits. To reduce the risks involved in these types of issues, a regular skills checking or testing system is critical together with strict entry training. That means employees who take the potential risk related work, their skills or working routines should be checked and tested against standard operation routines on a certain time base (such as one or two years’ time). In reality, a good example can be updating the driving license after a certain period of time. I believe this would help reduce the possibility of injury resulting from wrong operation routines in oil and gas industry.

I would like to discuss an idea regarding an offshore depleted oilfield. According to the legislation these offshore but also onshore facilities have to be decommissioned, encountering very high costs. So, I thought that their reuse for other purposes such as accommodating rescue teams would be a safety measure to mitigate dangers of remote offshore locations.
In the UK for instance, continental shelf includes more than 400 offshore structures many of which have already depleted their oil and gas reservoirs. But these structures have potential life of many years. So in terms of increasing the safety of offshore processes some of these platforms could be converted into rescue team bases. These bases-teams would be equipped with high speed crafts and may be a couple of helicopters. Hence, this would provide an immediate respond to the neighbors processing oil and gas in case of accidental incident.
I believe the costs of maintaining rescue crew in offshore locations, much closer than other onshore positions, can be afforded by many companies’ and this will decrease significantly the fatality. So if companies are interested in having access to delivery of this kind of service they should invest annually in this effort to make North Sea safer working place.

ZHANGYANAN's picture

Topic 9: Safety and risk management in oil and gas industry

Safety of the oil and gas industry has some relationship with
the factory environment, the employees personal
qualities, and
as well as the
prevention of fire and explosion safety
measures closely related to oil and gas not only
provide convenience to people's lives, but also there are certain risks, it may cause
the disease
and trauma
which caused by the property, factories, product or environmental damage.

Leading to loss of
or increase the burden.

So which can be
through more perfect management system and improve the security
of the oil and
gas industry.

Zhang Yanan    ID: 51233945 


SanjayVyas's picture

The process of HSE Risk Management starts right from the design stage where major accident hazards are identified and reduced to As Low As Reasonably Practicable (ALARP) and to a tolerable overall risk. This approach allows early identification of concerns when more effective action may be taken and provides a clear understanding of the safety critical elements used to control and hazard scenario. It follows principles of inherent safety and the risk reduction hierarchy consisting of
• Elimination of the hazards
• Reduction by substituting with a lesser hazard
• Isolation of people from the hazard
•Control of the hazard through procedures
Typically, a HAZID review is conducted at an early stage in order to identify major hazards and action appropriate control measures. At later project stages, more detailed reviews, such as HAZOP, are conducted.
Hazards which cannot be eliminated through principles of inherent safety are managed through application of principle of layers of defence mainly consisting of the following; 
•Prevention of the release (though overpressure protection and prevention of ignition sources)
•Detection of the release (through Fire and Gas detection systems)
•Control by inventory removal to a safe location (emergency depressuring and flaring)
•Mitigation (through active and passive fire protection)
•Emergency response (through provision of escape routes, muster locations and ER equipment)
The design of these defences is applied through the variety of reviews and risk studies by different engineering disciplines.
Sanjay Vyas- Student ID - 51234203

Hi colleagues,

I'm planning to start drafting my M.Sc thesisregarding safety in upstream oil & gas.

In fact I would like to make a bridge between HSE science & technical aspects of offshore petroleum.

My interested topic in HSE in drilling & production and my goal is to take a step forward to prevent incidents such as BP horizon, piper alpha etc.

Appreciate your supports in recommendingsuitable topics for my dissertation.



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