This paper describes the key elements of managing uncertainty to deliver sustainable unmanned operations: developing timely and appropriate operational philosophies; focusing on designing hazards out, in the very early phases of a project; and the importance of key business drivers.

The early establishment of operational philosophies contributes significantly to project certainty and would be considered mandatory to deliver on a not normally manned concept. These philosophies are fundamental in terms of reducing cumulative risk to the individual, high production availability and facilitating optimal life cycle costs.

The influence, importance and implementation of drivers, such as Inherent Safety (IS) and Operational Efficiency (OE), in order to manage uncertainties across project phases are discussed. Demonstration of As Low As Reasonably Practical (ALARP) risk can be subjective if these drivers are not included in the early design phases. The paper also shows that inherently safer design and sustainability are lifetime partners.

The operations philosophy is a key element in defining to the project, how the “customer” wants to run the facility. It is essential that the operational philosophy should not be derived from the output of the concept design i.e. “after the event”. Rather, the operations philosophy should be a parent document which should drive some of the concept requirements.

Omissions from or lack of attention to the operations philosophy, in any phase, will inevitably cause increased risk, loss of efficiency, lost production, unnecessary work for both vendor and customer alike and potentially lead to not achieving unmanned status. The influence of project drivers in each project phase needs to be understood and acted on for certainty of outcome and the delivery of not normally manned or minimum manning concepts.

The paper concludes that organic growth of complexity causes loss of value on all projects and it is essential that the operational philosophy is established in the concept phase to reduce complexity and certainty of outcome.

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