Alexander Keilland (1980), Ocean Ranger (1982), Piper Alpha (1988), P36 in Brazil (2001) and a recent major blowout (H2S release) in China (2003) are all well-known examples of incidents that have resulted in major loss of life.

The Safety Management Systems the industry utilises should be equally applicable to the management of all types of risk: from the high frequency, low consequence ‘slips, trips and falls’ to the rare, high consequence incidents. However, the review of past major incidents has shown that the complexity of the failure path is such that questions arise as to how adequate a traditional SMS based approach is to managing these types of incident.

This paper presents some of the major challenges associated with managing major incident risks. It draws upon the findings of a recent workshop organised by the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (OGP) that specifically addressed key challenges in this area, and identified issues that warrant further review and development.

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