Three-Year Probe of UK Offshore Industry Finds Problems

Britain's Health & Safety Executive finished a three-year investigation and inspected nearly 100 offshore oil and gas installations, with Health and Safety Commissioner Judith Hackitt saying safety in the industry has to improve. Hackitt released the KP3 report, prepared by HSE's Aberdeen, Scotland-based Offshore Division and addressing the safety and integrity of offshore installations and the equipment on them.

"The KP3 report is an incredibly thorough investigation into the integrity of the assets in the offshore industry and was wide-ranging in its scope," Hackitt said. "Whilst the sector has cooperated fully with us over the last three years, there can be no mistaking our message to those in the boardrooms of the oil and gas offshore companies: There is still much more to do, and those in a position of  leadership must  ensure that systems, procedures, and best practice are adopted to achieve the goal of the UK continental shelf becoming the safest offshore sector by 2010. The report highlights a number of examples of good practice, but there is still a need for better learning and sharing. There were wide variations in performance across the sector and within companies. In the light of the findings from the KP3 report, asset integrity will continue to be one of the main priorities for HSE's Offshore Division in 2008 and for the forseeable future, but it must also be clear that it is for the industry itself to show leadership and face up to its responsibility."

"To prevent major accidents it is vital that companies have effective process safety systems to ensure plant and equipment is properly maintained and working as intended," said Ian Whewell, who leads HSE's Offshore Division. "Our advice to the industry is clear. When looking at and testing systems and procedures on installations, companies must take a holistic approach and ensure that all those parts that need to work together to prevent a major incident do precisely that. This naturally applies to those parts of the process that are safety-critical, but that does not mean that things that are not classified as safety-critical should be ignored. In a major accident, degraded non-safety-critical plant or utility systems could seriously impact on the performance of safety-critical plants."

The report said many senior managers are not making adequate use of integrity management data and are not giving ongoing maintenance enough attention. The role of asset integrity and the concept of major hazard risk control are not well understood, according to the report, which is available at www.hse.gov.uk/offshore/programme.htm.

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