The paper comments on the existing use of quality assurance in all phases of oil and gas field development. It identifies the objectives for the use and the problems currently being experienced during the implementation of Project QA Programmes. Project QA Programmes. Some important possibilities for making a more rational and therefore cost effective approach are given.


The present situation regarding the proper application of QA Principles to offshore oil and gas developments is confused. There is an acceptance that for several reasons QA has a real place in procurement and project management, but application to design phase and installation is patchy. In plant operations and in drilling and production the use of QA principles is often non-existent.

The following overview indicates the position at the beginning of 1985.

Design Phase

The major problem facing the designer is to walk the thin divide between over-design, with inherent large factors, of safety at a cost premium and under-design which in theory at least will reduce the price but may, in service, lead to a higher risk of failure. Fortunately with the advent of computer aided design techniques designers have been able to pare away the 'factors of ignorance' to produce more economic and cost effective design solutions. However, higher design complexity, quality requirements of materials, required quality standards and the size of many offshore fabrications has imposed a need for greater cooperation between engineers and has introduced a new dimension of difficulty of organisation and communication to ensure that the design option selected by one engineer does not inhibit or restrict the choice of another.

Two or three of the major operators and most of the principal design contractors have some degree of Design Assurance activities, as set out in BS 5750 Part 1. The operator may have Design requirements which call up QA disciplines such as Design Control, Change Control, Document Control, Criticality Review, etc. Differing QA philosophies have been used in the design phase by contractors. Some have looked upon it as a 'checking' activity, whereby total responsibility has been placed within the QA Department for the re-checking of design documents for technical detail. The consequences of this are that the QA Department has become a burden rather than a bonus.

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