Calamities generally announce themselves. They are often preceded by small tell-tale signs. When organizations heed these warning signs, accidents are avoided. When these early signs are ignored, events escalate and often result in catastrophic failures. Organizations across the world have woken up to this reality and are increasingly establishing dedicated departments to look after the integrity of assets and reporting risk factors thereby averting large scale destruction.
History has revealed that quite often operational staff will continue to operate equipment even when they are aware of defects. This is because by training such staff is focused on performing the core task of keeping things running. Naturally they worry and keep fingers crossed hoping that they can get the defects attended to before these become critical. Frequently they get away, sometimes not.
As time passes and the number of defects pile up, the "High consequence/Low Probability" events get pushed deeper down the pile until the odds catch up - often with massive and disastrous consequences.
Major asset accidents cause considerable loss of life, property and reputation. They also damage the image of the industry.
Fortunately every organization has visionary staff that has the wisdom to look beyond the immediate issues and whose decisions prevent major incidents.
Early intervention and interruption of operations requires vision and courage often seen in upper management levels, generally independent from the operation.
Unfortunately in a lot of organizations these decision makers generally remain uninformed of these looming threats till disaster becomes imminent.
To ensure that such high risk probabilities get reported, various organizations have devised different reporting mechanisms. Unfortunately most reporting mechanisms have become voluminous and cumbersome briefs. Given the time at the disposal of the decision makers vis-a-vis the responsibilities, these detailed reports often defeat the very purpose they are designed for. More often than not, such reports remain unread - or at best left on the back burner with an intention to read and act upon "later in the day".
The challenge to the industry lies in devising a reporting mechanism that:
Gives a snapshot of company health at a glance
Covers all the assets of the company
Has complete details of the threats at any given time
Informs what risk mitigation is in place already
Provides information on the consequences of existing threats
Provides information of desired actions for the removal of threats
Is brief enough to be reported in a single sheet
Does not require the recipient to read long time consuming reports
One drilling contractor has devised exactly such a tool where the entire management sees the integrity threats faced by the company - across the fleet - at a glance - with all details - on a single sheet, without the need to read a single word!
This tool has allowed the organization to get aligned, recognize the existing threats and enlist the help and support of the entire organization for the removal of threats.
The paper examines the process of evolution for an effective reporting system that meets these seemingly incompatible demands of brevity and completeness. It also highlights how to make the process effective for ensuring that decision makers get the information they need, in the form that is effective and will ensure timely closeouts.
Asset Integrity has dogged the world for a very long time now. In fact the very definition of asset integrity and all the parameters associated with asset integrity are still evolving. A recent Step Change initiative that was launched in the North Sea has brought focus to the important subject of asset integrity. But even with this renewed focus on asset integrity, incidents of global impact have continued to rock the world in general and the Oil & Gas industry in particular. Industry giants have been faced with near ruin when integrity incidents of international impact or environmental disasters have occurred. Innocent nations have found themselves battling against near catastrophic disaster when the integrity of a nuclear facility has been seriously compromised by the forces of nature. In fact the occurrence of a high potential low frequency incident that has the potential to destroy an organization is becoming less rare today than ever before. This is despite very vigilant and responsible regulators and managements. Clearly the need for an effective reporting of integrity has never been more pressing.
The challenges to asset integrity reporting come from the fact that some threats to the integrity of an asset demand very bold decisions. Decisions like stopping a refinery or interrupting oil production can result in revenue impacts running into millions of dollars. In the balance, for deciding on the cessation of operations is frequently a very low probability incident, but one that could have catastrophic consequences. What it actually boils down to is shutting down a process, plant or operation at a cost of hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions of dollars to carry out a repair involving, maybe, a few hundred dollars. The net result is that, when this decision to carry out the repair is made, the repair ends up costing the organization hundreds of thousands in lost revenue. Yet we expect that the decision be taken by staff whose delegation of authority has been limited to a fraction of that value. Decisions involving major financial commitment usually come from the higher echelons of an organization. A review of industry data reveals that most organizations where serious asset integrity incidents have occurred, failed to react in time and almost all, if not all organizations could have prevented the incidents occurring. What then prevented the timely intervention and averting of the incident? Most often the person on site with the knowledge of the integrity risk lacked the courage to make the bold decision that could make the company lose huge revenues. At the same time the actual decision makers in the higher cadres of management remained unaware of the developing situation till it became almost inevitable, or in some cases, till the event actually occurred. What unfortunately follows then is the matter for history books.
Asset Integrity has existed in different formats possibly ever since industry began. Yet until a few years ago asset integrity was only a financial term. Even today if anyone does an internet search on asset integrity, the greater number of hits are likely to be financial subjects as opposed to subjects dealing with the integrity of physical assets. The only difference between the past perception of asset integrity and the present focus on it is the industry recognition of the need to unify the requirements into a dedicated envelop and deliver results against a pre-defined set of prescribed demands. What in the past remained diffused within organizations in various departments is now being brought under an umbrella for better management. The support industry has responded positively be throwing up a whole suite of Consultants and practitioners helping organizations to devise effective mechanisms to manage the vital subject of asset integrity.
Integrity of assets, whether these are at design stage, operating stage or even disposal stage needs to be known and reported to the right levels of an organization, including the top management.
The top management of organizations is frequently faced with extremely busy schedules demanding every moment of their attention. The time demands are so huge that most CEOs of major organizations have almost every moment of their working time mapped out and committed. Against this background it is not unreasonable to expect that any report or memo that takes more than a few minutes to read will be relegated to a "more convenient time". It is also not unrealistic to realize that sometimes this "convenient time" might not come, as more pressing and urgent demands occupy the minds and calendars of a busy leadership. Responsible reporting therefore takes note of this reality and ensures that important facts are conveyed as concisely and accurately as possible.
So what constitutes an ideal Asset Integrity report?
Cover all assets
Report on all equipment on the assets
Inform what the risks are
Mention what mitigation is in place
Specify clearly what actions are required
Be visible to all Key staff
Be easy for site staff to report
Have a process to measure compliance/improvement
Be possible to fit on a single sheet
Have a minimum of words
Above all, it must be Simple and give information "at a glance"
Seems like an impossible combination? Yet this exactly what is demanded from effective Asset Integrity reporting. The good news of course is that it can be easily accomplished