The oil and gas industry is well aware of the criticality of well control barriers; they are often what stand between us and catastrophe. Emphasis on barriers has become more prominent within the Oil and Gas industry, which has utilized several methods to keep the hydrocarbons where they belong. However, most provide little insight into methods of barrier verification, and the assurance of such methods.
Building on the results of previous studies that emphasize the criticality of barriers in relation to well control by J.G. Go Boncan and G.E. King & D.E. King in publications titled “BowTie and Job Hazard Analysis: A Case Study to Communicate the Barrier Philosophy as it Relates to Process Safety in Well Operations” and “Environmental Risk Arising From Well-Construction Failure—Differences Between Barrier and Well Failure, and Estimates of Failure Frequency Across Common Well Types, Locations, and Well Age” respectively, this paper addresses the need for barrier verification assurance, which is seen as the next logical step in achieving the ultimate goal of well control. Well control barriers are critical, but how is the industry verifying them? And if so, how are they assured? More importantly, is there a way to measure barrier assurance?
This paper explains an evaluation of several barrier verification methods, their strengths and limitations, taking into account various geographical, technological and resource considerations. The output of the evaluation is a Barrier Assurance Metric (BAM) which can be used to determine if there is an adequate level of barrier assurance at the well site.