France Risk management offshore enhanced by ARMS

A decision support tool has been introduced which helps operational managers handle hazardous situations on production platforms. ARMS was developed by a consortium of five organizations, including French classification society Bureau Veritas. It provides platform managers with an estimate of the risk level at any given time, and of expected changes in that level within a specified time window. It also provides guidelines for rational risk management decisions during that period.

A decision support tool has been introduced which helps operational managers handle hazardous situations on production platforms.

ARMS was developed by a consortium of five organizations, including French classification society Bureau Veritas. It provides platform managers with an estimate of the risk level at any given time, and of expected changes in that level within a specified time window. It also provides guidelines for rational risk management decisions during that period.

As input, ARMS requires a physical and functional description of the platform; data concerning equipment reliability; definitions of areas of uncertainty and ways of handling them; activities requiring permits-to-work; and decision criteria adapted to the circumstances.

The software comprises four modules, each developed with an adapted program. The Platform Model module actually has two sub-models, dedicated to management of the topology and the process of the production installation.

Through these sub-modules, the user can view the platform's different levels and equipment components with varying degrees of complexity. The topology sub-module, for instance, provides information on the location of flammable materials, status of safety systems and evacuation rates.

When activities take place at the different layouts, they are graphically represented and linked to ARMS' second module, the Work Permit system. This is an activity planning model, allowing the user to schedule onboard activities in order to minimize risks.

This latter module can also be integrated with the Risk Assessment module, allowing quantification of the risk associated with a given work plan, and allowing the risk to be kept within an acceptable range. Finally, the Decision Analysis Model module selects the appropriate response to an alert and provides recommendations for data gathering sensitive to the initial diagnosis and to the decision horizon selected.

ARMS uses rapid real-time expert system reasoning supplemented periodically with normative diagnostic inference, in order to screen for hazardous situations. The expert system is Gensym's G2, an open system which can be linked to existing programs such as process control and planning systems or to software such as belief network engines.

The software was presented at OTC last year, attracting great interest from the UK Offshore Operators' Association (UKOOA).

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