New reliability engineering system in use at BP's Thunder Horse project

BP's Thunder Horse development in the Gulf of Mexico was designed under a rigorous reliability engineering program, a subsea project engineer at BP told Deep Offshore Technology conference attendees in Marseille, France, yesterday.

BP's Thunder Horse development in the Gulf of Mexico was designed under a rigorous reliability engineering program, a subsea project engineer at BP told Deep Offshore Technology conference attendees in Marseille, France, yesterday.

The new reliability engineering system, said Peter Taylor of BP, is important because so much of the supermajor's growth is invested in subsea projects. The program, he said, is a set of 13 processes that span the duration of the deepwater Thunder Horse project.

BP brought in support from contractors on the project. FMC Energy Systems developed its Reliability Assurance Program, which includes a reliability engineering group that works on each step of each project, said David MacFarlane, a subsea engineering manager at FMC.

Part of the process at FMC included designing an availability allocation model, MacFarlane said. It allows opportunity to improve each component through the design process and minimizes retrieval and re-installation time, he added.

These reliability tasks were incorporated into the project schedule.

Supply chain management was one key part of the system. Each supplier had to document the flow process for each item, he said.

"We got a much better understanding of the materials we would be using," he added.

Taylor said the learning curve to incorporate the reliability engineering process was steep.

"The level of training that was required was significant," he said.

Technology Risk Assurance Process is one step in BP's reliability engineering process.

Under TRAP, subject matter experts assess the desgin at various stages of the development process, he said.

"They're a fresh set of eyes coming in," he added.

Now that BP has laid the groundwork for the process, Taylor said, the supermajor is applying it to other projects.

"It's not something BP can do alone. It's something the industry needs to take aboard," Taylor said.

The industry can join in the pursuit for reliability engineering by pioneering standards for it and by operators requiring the same out of the contractors, he added.

11/20/03

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