Petrotechnics and the Swiss cheese

OTC presentation deprecates ’siloed’ risk control systems.

Speaking at the 2015 Offshore technology conference in Houston earlier this year, Petrotechnics’ north American president, Mike Neill enumerated some process safety challenges that face offshore operators. Some risk control systems may suffer from the ‘silo’ phenomenon where information sharing is limited. Others are limited to broad brush KPI’s that may not be aligned with the current system’s state.

To address potential risks such as loss of primary containment, fire, explosion and blowout, operators erect multiple barrier systems. These are often described with James Reason’s ‘Swiss cheese’ model which postulates that although each barrier may show deficiencies, multiple barriers can eliminate the overall risk.

Neill recommends focusing on the health of the barriers themselves. Barriers are subject to many forms of deviations or impairments which impact performance. Understanding the cumulative effect of these impairments is necessary and some regulatory authorities, particularly when dealing with aging assets, have been asking operators how they account for this cumulative risk.

Assessing the risk impact of such issues can be a daunting exercise given the wealth of data. Moreover, to be relevant, assessment needs to done on the true configuration of barriers in time and space. This is where Petrotechnics’ Proscient technology comes in, providing real-time management of barrier health including the impact of ongoing impairments and frontline activities. Proscient produces cumulative risk indicators showing the impact of daily activity schedules on top of barrier impairments and allows work plans to be optimized for risk reduction. Output is compliant with API RP754 and other industry norms.

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