Michael Green, Conor Crowley and John Spiteri (Atkins Limited – SNC Lavalin). Lee Allford (Energy Institute)

It is estimated that more than 120 platforms with a combined weight of more than 1 million tonnes will be decommissioned over the next 10 years in the North Sea alone. This will involve a significant number of personnel engaged offshore in potentially hazardous operations during the removal of these facilities, underlining the need for ensuring high standards of process safety within the associated decommissioning projects.

The need for effective management of process safety during decommissioning was highlighted in the major structural collapse incident at the Didcot power station in the UK in 2016 that resulted in 4 fatalities. This together with the fact that the police and HSE are conducting a joint investigation to consider corporate manslaughter, gross negligence manslaughter and health and safety offences, highlights the gravity of getting it wrong.

With support from the Energy Institute and cross-industry involvement from oil companies, contracting companies and the UK Safety Regulator, new guidance has been developed that will support those engaged in decommissioning offshore facilities to plan, design and execute their projects so as to manage risk from major accident hazards (Energy Institute, 2019).

This paper presents the key elements of this guidance which provides a roadmap to managing process safety across the lifecycle of a decommissioning project, from initiation through execution. The guidance is set-out according to typical phases of a decommissioning project, providing useful insights into key process safety considerations, objectives, tasks and outputs.

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