In this paper, we outline a risk-based decision-making (RBDM) approach for, and some examples of, review of novel concepts for gas transportation and handling. In its more complex applications, an RBDM review process may call for full-scale application of risk assessment methodologies, including quantitative frequency assessment, detailed consequence analysis, and comprehensive risk evaluation. However, at the novel concept stage, there is generally not enough information to provide the input those methods require. This paper addresses performing the kind of review needed at early stages in development of a conceptual design.

The basis for an effective RBDM application is to perform as little analysis as is necessary to provide the information needed by decision makers. This leads to very focused risk analysis efforts, including the use of approaches such as change analysis, relative ranking, and other qualitative techniques in many cases. If required, more detailed quantitative studies can be performed; however, this is seldom necessary (or even possible) at the conceptual stage. Those studies are reserved for when they are more valuable (i.e., when detailed engineering efforts have developed adequate information to consider).

The process outlined in this paper is consistent with the United States Coast Guard's (USCG's) Risk Based Decision-Making Guidelines [1.] (referred to as the RBDM Guidelines) that was documented for the USCG by ABSG Consulting Inc. (ABS Consulting). The specific novel concept process is documented in the American Bureau of Shipping's Guidance Notes on Review and Approval of Novel Concepts [2] (referred to as the Novel Concepts Guide).


The development of deepwater gas resources is an on-going process involving innovative solutions to to develop, produce, process, transport, and handle natural gas. In many cases, these approaches involve "novel concepts," which are defined as applications or processes that have previous experience in the environment being proposed. In working with novel concepts these classes of concepts have been defined:

  • Existing design / process / procedures in new or novel applications

    An example of this could be a proposed first use of an existing onshore technology (e.g., a chemical process or storage medium) on floating structures.

  • Existing design / process / procedures challenging the present boundaries/envelope of current offshore or marine applications

    An example of this could be a proposed use of an existing type of floating structure, typically only used for drilling and processing hydrocarbons that would also include hydrocarbon storage.

    An example of this could be a new type of offshore floating structure that has not been used before in the industry.

  • New or novel design / process / procedures in new or novel application

    An example of this could be a proposed use of a new technology application such as the use of a new hydrocarbon process on a new type of floating structure.

Novel concepts are not inherently more risky, in fact, in many cases, they may prove in operation to pose less risk than prior technologies.

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