Based on the authors’ experience and case studies drawn from 11 years of working with 14 North Sea operators, this paper will show how business continuity has been successfully implemented in the oil and gas sector to maintain continuity of operations.

Business continuity management (BCM) is based upon the ethos of determining business priorities and minimum resource requirements to protect critical activities pre-incident and ensuring that plans and solutions are pre-agreed to allow effective response to an incident which causes a loss of resource.

Business continuity planning in the oil and gas industry has traditionally focused on recovering onshore support functions and infrastructure in the event of loss of premises or IT. Now operators are expanding their business continuity scope to review other dependencies and their importance to maintaining the continuity of operations at exploration and production facilities. Consider for example, the implications of a disruption to pipeline or transport routes, loss of terminal or control room, or unavailability of critical spares.

Man made and natural disasters can impact both offshore and onshore operations as evidenced by the 2009 pandemic, the 2010 volcanic ash clouds and high profile oil spills. Rather than just focusing on incident management, a more effective approach is to take the learning points from real incidents, exercises and planning, understand how to mitigate the risks and adopt appropriate recovery strategies.

Organisations will then find themselves better placed to effectively manage communications with all stakeholders so that credibility can be maintained. Also, being able to demonstrate effective contingency planning helps persuade regulators that the risks associated with current and planned operations are understood.

This paper will set out the benefits of integrating BCM into the risk management process to understand potential threats and put in place effective strategies to ensure impacts are sustainable should the unexpected happen.

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