The UK portion of the North West Europe Continental Shelf is a harsh environment in which to explore for and produce oil and gas. In that environment BG Group (now part of Royal Dutch Shell) has learned to expect the unexpected and to respond effectively to “abnormal” situations. Anything from a minor upset that affects operations, to a temporary loss of logistics support or even the identified impairment of some safety-critical element can create a deviation from normal operation. Operators prime consideration in any abnormal situation is to avoid any increased risk to safety. This is the basis for using operational risk assessments (ORA) to manage the situation and put in place an effective mitigation, enabling them to continue to operate and work safely until recovery, or to take any necessary shutdown actions.
In 2008, the UK Health and Safety Executive posed two questions to BG:
Unable to answer these questions to its own satisfaction, BG set out to find or build a solution that could provide a clear and concise answer to these questions; and, consequently, clearer definitions of the questions themselves.
Over the following two years, BG’s Process Safety Team developed a robust manual data-management and best-practice process that won the Chairman’s Award for Asset Integrity for the North Sea Assets in 2010. This spurred on the further development of the process to be automated, and set out a project to develop what was called Cumulative Risk Profile, later termed Barrier Model, and now identified as the product RiskPoynt. The design concepts and business thinking that went into the original manual process were automated into a software product and deployed across BG assets.
BG decided to host a single instance of RiskPoynt at corporate IT and integrate it into their global Maximo work management system for the majority of sites (SAP PM for India) to feed real-time safety critical maintenance and deferment information. Subject matter experts were trained in each region to assure the process and systems are maintained, and RiskPoynt is now used with confidence daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly and yearly for reviews, audits and formal reporting. The system and process have grown to include 400 registered users, over 33 installations (onshore processing and offshore production). Now, any of these users can see at a glance the cumulative effect of risk on their asset.
For BG, the process starts with the platform – integrity related issues are identified – and discussed at installation management meetings. Here the assessment is made initially using performance standards, identified interrelated failures and understanding of the risk. Interim control measures are then agreed. Mitigation control measures are documented through the operations risk assessment process which outlines the management of mitigation measures applied. This process is mirrored within RiskPoynt.
Onshore Support and technical authorities further discuss the issue. Discussion ranges around the further understanding of the issue including challenges for continued operation, clarification of standards and agreement that the control mitigation measures are adequate and appropriate to reach ALARP.
Once risk and mitigation measures have been fully understood and applied, the result is communicated across the organisation via RiskPoynt’s dashboard visualization. The use of the cumulative risk profile to explain and illustrate is an effective way of demonstrating the integrity status and control of the installation.
Consequently, management discussion and engagement with the installation are brought into focus with clear visibility on status of asset integrity – along with open discussion, better decision making and effective interventions leading to long term solutions.
Technology plays a part in a low oil price market, moving the relationship between operational excellence to operational discipline. The use of software tools like RiskPoynt – born from the industry for the industry – enables BG to focus on the key risks, and drive home the priorities of operational excellence. The combined visualisation enables communication and promotes the operational discipline around safety and integrity.