Effective integrity management (IM) is critical to the control of major accident hazards in oil and gas production operations. To achieve effective IM, it is necessary that an aware workforce deploy quality practices to sound facilities. An easy summary statement, but complex and difficult to achieve in practice. Based on the author's experiences with production operations on five continents, important people, process and plant requirements for acceptable IM are reviewed. Pitfalls encountered are also described, with examples of successful recovery noted.
People requirements start with leadership, accountability and competency, but go beyond to shared vision, passion to achieve and willingness to challenge the status quo when necessary. People are the first priority for IM, as they are often able to overcome shortcomings in process and plant; the reverse is generally not possible.
Hazard awareness, understanding and management is the cornerstone process for effective IM. If dangers are known and widely understood, effective means to mitigate and control can be devised, implemented and tracked. Other important processes include robust management of change (MOC), engineering practices, operating procedures, incident investigation processes, emergency response procedures and performance scorecarding.
IM plant requirements start with inherently safer design, quality procurement, fabrication and commissioning. These progress to practices for sustaining safety critical equipment including inspections, chemical treatments, monitoring and effective repair and maintenance programs. For the latter, testing and assurance around process safety protective systems is especially important. Finally, modifications to facilities to systematically reduce risk should not be forgotten, particularly over the long producing life of some assets. This may involve correcting existing deficiencies or the introduction of new technologies to do things better.
Many of the activities, skill sets and processes for what is now popularly called, "Integrity Management (IM)," have been part of the worldwide oil and gas industry for at least the latter half of the 20th century and perhaps even before. Disciplines such as corrosion, metallurgy, inspections, non-destructive evaluation (NDE), etc., quickly come to mind, but it should be recognized that Operations (OPS) and Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) staff also had significant IM roles, particularly around people, procedures, emergency response and incident management. Despite this situation, catastrophes such as Grangemouth (1987), Piper Alpha (1988), Longford (1998), P-36 (2001), Skikda (2004) and others have caused many IM practictioners to conclude that a more holistic approach is needed.
Integrity is defined as, "..unimpaired condition; soundness; strict adherence to a code.., ..state of being complete," and management as, "judicious use of means to accomplish an end ." For oil and gas production operations, IM can be defined as a continuous assessment process applied throughout design, maintenance and operations to proactively assure facilities are managed safely. Effective IM combines many activities, skills and processes, but in a coordinated and systematic way and from the very top of the organization to the bottom. Each of the IM aspects can be thought of as an obstacle to the consequences of a major accident, the prevention or mitigation of which, is the main objective of IM. As shown in Figure 1, these can be envisioned as a series of imperfect filters, where the line-up of multiple system faults results in serious major accident consequences. This multiple protection layer concept is a key feature of effective IM.