Wong, Norman Amoco (U.K.) Exploration Co.

Abstract

This paper discusses the piloting work done by Amoco (U.K.) Exploration Company, from 1988 to date, in developing safety cases for a total of 21 diverse installations in the United Kingdom sector of the North Sea.

The period is characterised by an unprecedented degree of change during which operators have sought to achieve a practical and consistent outcome in anticipation of new offshore safety regulations finally introduced in 1993 [1].

The paper describes Amoco's approach to the management of that change, the formation and the work of the Amoco Safety Case Team, and the value of the information and experience obtained during the process. It concludes by discussing the key elements in the project's success and the future challenges facing the industry in continuing to implement the new approach to safety.

Introduction

In July 1988, an incident on an offshore installation led to the loss of 167 lives. The resulting Public Inquiry, chaired by Lord Cullen, produced a report containing 106 recommendations [2]. The central recommendation was that the operators of offshore installations should be required to prepare a safety case, and submit it to the regulator for his acceptance.

A Safety Case can be defined as the document that describes the management system for safe operation of an offshore installation. It should demonstrate that all hazards have been identified and assessed, and are under control by effective safety measures so that the exposure of personnel to the hazards has been minimised.

Amoco (U.K.) Exploration Company is the operator of the North West Hutton, Montrose and Arbroath oil fields; the Leman, Inde, Lomond and North Everest gas fields; and the CATS pipeline. The installations on these fields vary in size, complexity and age, ranging from large oil and gas production installations, multi-jacket gas production, terminal, processing and compression complexes, down to smaller single- jacket gas production installations that are not normally manned.

In 1988 an Amoco taskforce, comprising senior engineers and safety specialists, reviewed the production operations and facilities. The team identified areas from which a series of safety enhancement studies were carried out. These qualitative studies developed into offshore modifications and in 1990 Amoco relocated 44 emergency shutdown valves (ESDVS) on pipeline risers; installed a pipeline sub sea isolation valve (SSIV); upgraded fire protection systems, and evacuation, escape and rescue facilities. This work subsequently proved a valuable source of information and ideas for the safety case development project.

As operators of 21 installations it was crucial that Amoco devised a consistent approach to the development of the safety case and extended this to all our safety documentation. This would allow a sharing of useful information with a view to enhancing safety in a well structured and uniform way for all installations.

AMOCO'S "CULLEN TASKFORCE"

On publication of Lord Cullen's Report, Amoco established a taskforce to accelerate the responses to the recommendations. The foremost objective of the taskforce was to establish the Amoco Safety Management System as a prelude to developing a safety case for each installation. Their immediate task was to review the effectiveness of existing systems and prepare a framework for managing and monitoring safety without lessening individual responsibility for safe working. On the basis of this, the taskforce initiated a number of important changes to Amoco's approach to safety.

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