This case history paper presents safety philosophy, procedures, monitoring activity, and staff duties associated with the safety record of a well-service vessel operating in the North Sea. The vessel has operated without accident for 6 years.

Different governments in the region require operators, who represent a variety of cultural backgrounds, to submit their safety cases for regulatory analysis. Every installation has a different code of procedures according to its type, company, and background. As a consequence, the safety case must be applicable within the constraints of cultural diversity without compromising safety or environmental protection.

Application of safety procedure management has been the key to the 6-year safety record presented here. A health, safety, and environment (HSE) specialist is tasked to (1) monitor compliance with the safety case, (2) measure performance, (3) analyze job safety, (4) assess risks, (5) perform hazardous operations (HAZOPS) studies, and (6) revise the safety case as required.


Establishing and maintaining an effective safety program for a seagoing well-service vessel requires a firm and continuing commitment by company management to provide funding support, monitoring, and program maintenance. Such an effort is made more difficult when the vessel operates in waters claimed by various countries with diverse cultural backgrounds, governments, and regulatory philosophies. Safety management tasks are further complicated by cultural differences of the vessel's crews; that is, those with seafaring skills, backgrounds, and responsibilities, and those who specialize in serving the needs of offshore-well operators.

The well-service vessel (WSV) that is the subject of this paper is an 88-m, dynamically positioned monohull (Figure 1, Page 7). It was built as a pipe carrier and platform supply vessel in 1983 then chartered by Halliburton in 1985 and converted into a well-stimulation vessel. The vessel displaces 5,546 t. It contains bulk and liquid storage tanks and all pumping/blending equipment needed to conduct well-stimulation operations.

When the WSV was introduced to the North Sea in 1985, safety was emphasized by focusing on compliance with offshore regulations concerning operations within the petroleum industry. Typical safety management systems implemented at that time fulfilled only the requirements legislated by governments of the various countries where the vessel operated. This implementation proved difficult since country requirements differed and were subject to different interpretation and standards of acceptability.

Following a public inquiry into a major offshore North Sea disaster in 1988, legislators of North Sea countries passed far-reaching legislation concerning the Safety Case regime, with primary emphasis on safety management systems (SMS). The SMS on the vessel in 1988 was documented and implemented within a quality system with focus on the ISO Standard 9001. Although no authority required submittal of a safety plan, the service company implemented an HSE management system according to its internal safety policy and focused on vessel operation processes. This safety management system was linked with other installations and safety cases to make it a living document.

This paper highlights key issues of the HSE management system and the company management's commitment to safety of the vessel and its crews.

Safety Philosophy

Since its inception, the service company instituted a safety program led by the most senior-level management. This safety program required regular visits, on-the-job training, audits, and communication by the senior HSE management team to explain the goals of the health, safety, and environmental management system. The basic concept of the system is that it must be incorporated into day-to-day operations.

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