Offshore drilling rigs are increasingly complex integrated systems that incorporate automated software-dependent control systems to maintain safe and effective operations. Under even relatively benign conditions, software issues have caused unintended circumstances, sometimes with catastrophic results. Catastrophic incidents and unplanned downtime are reduced when such systems are based on well-defined requirements that are verified during system development and then validated to work as intended in the operational environments.

Industry leaders, governments and international organizations are encouraging more stringent practices to improve offshore drilling operational safety. DNV and ABS standards, Integrated Software-Dependent System (ISDS) and Integrated Software Quality Management (ISQM), respectfully, aim to reduce the number of system and software issues through the application of standard software verification and validation (V&V) practices.

The aerospace industry has a long tradition for applying such discipline. In fact, it is required when working with some government agencies, such as the NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration. These disciplines contribute to the design of complex, safe, reliable, high-performance systems that allow humans and equipment to operate in the most extreme environments on Earth and in space. Over the past 12 years, operators in the offshore drilling industry have benefited significantly through application of aerospace-based systems engineering disciplines to address a wide variety of high-value rig system safety and performance issues. These processes are most effective when included during development of new rig and subsystem designs. However, significant benefit to system safety and performance can also be achieved when these processes are incorporated as part of service life extension and subsystem upgrade projects.

This paper will focus on a description of the processes and benefits to come from applying an integrated system level software requirements verification and validation approach.

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