Peter RichardsonAround the world, offshore installations rely on facilities owned and operated not only by the parent company, but also by a variety of subsidiaries, partners, co-venturers, and even competitors. Many of the Year 2000 issues affecting the industry have common roots, effects, and solutions. Recognizing this, in mid-1997 the UK Offshore Operators Association (UKOOA) formed a Year 2000 Task Force. The terms of reference of the UKOOA Year 2000 Task Force are to:
- Promote awareness of the Year 2000 issues
- Promote collaboration and sharing of best practice
- Develop links with other Year 2000 bodies and government agencies
- Coordinate cross discipline issues within UKOOA and industry in general.
Representatives of trade associations such as IADC, IMCA, SSOA, OCA attend the Task Force's monthly meetings, and as some of them represent international associations, awareness of the issue and UKOOA's activities are spread around the globe.
The Task Force encourages all aspects of the industry to look beyond the current crop of problems. It is not too soon to start looking, not only at contingency planning for offshore operations, but also at business continuity management for the entire enterprise. Onshore office staff may be faced with a lack of power, water, and transportation.
Collaboration, best practicesModern industrial plant control systems, onshore or offshore, make extensive use of computer controlled sub-systems and the embedded chips in those sub-systems are a major cause for concern.
There are so many electronic controllers and intelligent field devices in use on a modern offshore installation that determining whether or not they are year 2000 compliant is a very time consuming undertaking.
With so much of the equipment coming from common suppliers, there is an opportunity to test once and satisfy many customers. On the other hand, there is real concern that suppliers will simply not have the resources to fix the problems at each and every installation.
The monthly meetings, and the associated e-mail mailing list, provide a very effective method of identifying common problem areas and developing best practices to overcome them. As a vehicle to share knowledge, particularly the results of equipment tests, the Task Force created a website. Some test results have now been published, although the numbers of companies involved and legal issues have made for slowed progress.
To develop links with other Year 2000 bodies and government agencies, UKOOA's Year 2000 Task Force monthly meetings are regularly attended by representatives from UK government bodies (DTI and HSE), and from classification societies such as Lloyds Register, and from trade associations described earlier. The UK government's Action 2000 has made a short presentation to the group.
The Task Force has links with other oil industry Y2K bodies and information is shared among members. For example:
- The American Petroleum Institute Year 2000 subcommittee has a comparable set-up to UKOOA. As with UKOOA, the API has set up a web-site, which is now being populated with test information.
- The Norwegian Y2K Oil and Gas Forum has representatives from all the Norwegian Sector Offshore Operating Companies and from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate. The delegates consist of representatives from both the IT and control sides. The forum has heard from representatives from civil aviation, insurance, drilling and well services, control systems suppliers, specialist Y2K testing houses, and engineering companies.
- The Australian Institute of Petroleum (AIP) Year 2000 committee organized a forum in October 1997, with vendors and suppliers to the oil industry. No common industry procedures came out of the forum, but it was successful in highlighting the industry's concerns and making vendors aware of problems.
Members have approached the national supply industries, such as power, water, transport and, of course, gas, to obtain progress updates and have given briefings to specific groups of underwriters to assure them that the industry is tackling the problem in a controlled and disciplined manner.
UKOOA's Year 2000 Task Force has a solid foundation with strong links into all parts of the industry. Through this network, it has gained an invaluable awareness of just how much remains to be done to ensure that the Year 2000 problem has minimal impact on the offshore oil and gas supply. Considerable progress has been made, but there is concern that not enough has been done to share test procedures and results. We all need to build on our successes and overcome our common difficulties.
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