Abnormal-Situation Management in Offshore Operations
- Chris Carpenter (JPT Technology Editor)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- December 2013
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 103 - 105
- 2013. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 0 in the last 30 days
- 58 since 2007
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This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Chris Carpenter, contains highlights of paper SPE 166584, "Abnormal-Situation Management and Its Relevance to Process Safety for Offshore Operations," by Dal Vernon Reising and Peter Bullemer, Human Centered Solutions, and Bruce Colgate (retired), prepared for the 2013 SPE Offshore Europe Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition, Aberdeen, 3-6 September. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
The Abnormal Situation Management (ASM) Consortium performed a root-cause analysis on 32 incident reports gathered from public documents and member companies. The analysis identified common failure categories and manifestations in these incidents. Consequently, the consortium completed three case studies on potential deployment solutions: one supporting better shift-handover communication, a second supporting better alarm-flood situations, and a third supporting better situation awareness by use of overview displays using qualitative gauges.
The ASM Consortium has been working for almost 20 years with an emphasis on human-factor engineering to address process-safety and operational challenges for downstream hydrocarbon-processing and petrochemicals companies. These consortium members have jointly invested in research and development to create knowledge, tools, and products designed to prevent, detect, and mitigate abnormal situations that affect process safety in the control/operations environment. The consortium has placed a continual emphasis on the humans that use automation and technology to operate the production processes, focusing extensively on human factors, human reliability, and process safety. Recently, the consortium has expanded its focus to upstream enterprises, with many of the operating company members having extensive oil and gas businesses.
What Are Abnormal Situations?
The ASM Consortium has defined abnormal situations as “undesired plant disturbances or incidents with which the control system is not able to cope, requiring a human to intervene to supplement the actions of the control system.” An abnormal situation could be a simple upset condition quickly recognized and rectified by operator action, or an abnormal situation could escalate to a critical process-safety incident, where a safety system must be engaged for an emergency shutdown and evacuation is required. The objective of ASM is to bring the process back to normal before safety-shutdown-control systems or other safety-protection systems are engaged.
This definition is specifically used to distinguish between normal, abnormal, and emergency situations from the perspective of console operations. Often, operator error is blamed for causing incidents, and companies rush to increase training as a panacea. The work of the consortium has shown that incidents are caused by a multitude of factors, and solutions to address incidents need to consider the human operator’s role, the technology involved, and the system design, as well as the environment.
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