HSE launches UK platform safety review

Britain’s Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has introduced a new inspection program for offshore oil and gas installations on the UK continental shelf.

Offshore staff

LONDON– Britain’s Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has introduced a new inspection program for offshore oil and gas installations on the UK continental shelf.

HSE points out that after 40 years of production from the UK North Sea, more than half of the fixed platforms have exceeded their original design life or will do shortly. Many will likely remain operational, so HSE plans to visit installations and check safety management plans to ensure the effects of ageing are taken into account.

Steve Walker, HSE’s head of Offshore Safety, said: “We are very clear that if installations are going to be used beyond their original anticipated design life then operators need to look to the future and anticipate inevitable consequences. This is a priority for us.

“Ageing offshore installations run the risk of deterioration, which can have serious consequences for installation and asset integrity. This is not acceptable. The safety of 28,000 workers is dependent on systems and structures being in good working now and in the future.

“We will be seeking evidence and reassurance that operators are properly considering ageing and life extension as a key and distinct part of their asset integrity management plans.”

The aims of the Ageing & Life Extension Inspection Programme (Key Program 4) are:

· To identify duty holders’ approaches to management of risks of ageing and life extension to asset integrity

· To raise awareness of the need to consider ageing issues as a distinct activity within the asset integrity management process

· To enforce appropriate remedial action where needed

· To work with the offshore industry to establish a common approach to management of ageing installations.

KP4 will run through September 2013. It will also cover development of technical information for operators on ageing installations including structural integrity and the integrity of process plant, fire and explosion, and electrical and control systems.

In response to the new initiative, Malcolm Webb, CEO of industry association Oil & Gas UK said: “It is important that we review and reflect on our operations on a regular basis to make sure that our offshore installations continue to be fit for purpose, safe and efficient. As with the previous major inspection program (KP3) which ended in 2007, industry will work closely with the HSE throughout this review.

“Operating in a mature basin brings its own challenges, in particular the maintenance of ageing installations and infrastructure. Over the last few years, the UK offshore oil and gas industry has responded well to this challenge and has put huge effort into improving the integrity of its offshore facilities. The industry continues to make substantial investment to ensure its installations are well maintained and remain fit for purpose, as was borne out in the HSE’s KP3 review.

“The actions of the industry, the regulator and the trade unions via Step Change in Safety, all working closely together towards a continuous improvement in safety performance, have resulted in a reduction in the number of offshore injuries and incidents in recent years. However despite the progress made, we know that work on safety is never done; inspection programmes such as this are essential in keeping the industry firmly on its goal of operating its assets to the highest possible standard.“


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