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The process of safety
By Peter Brawley Operations and Brownfield Projects Manager

In our latest blog Peter Brawley, our Operations and Improvements Manager, outlines the importance of process safety in the oil and gas industry.

Over the last 40 years there have been a number of high profile accidents in the global oil and gas industry that have proved fundamental turning points in terms of how our sector operates.

The scale and intensity of incidents in the upstream sector can be enormous. While the oil and gas industry continues to make significant strides in adopting new techniques, these incidents rightly continue to raise questions about the industry’s safety measures.

The factors contributing to each incident are varied and far reaching, however human error and technical weaknesses are often causative factors.

Next week the UK industry will gather in Aberdeen at the oil and gas industry conference, to highlight, define and debate the critically important issues facing upstream petroleum exploration and development on the UK continental shelf today. Safety will form an integral part of those discussions.

Process safety is the application of a range of processes, methodologies and tools to minimise the likelihood, or limit the effects, of a major accident hazard event. The concept is increasingly recognised as a route to reducing risk as well as improving asset performance, overall safety, profitability and reputation.

But while most well run organisations can tell you how many incidents they had yesterday; the real challenge is to be able to answer the question “how likely am I to have an incident-free day tomorrow?”

A good framework forms the basis for significantly reducing risk and at its core, should address three essential aspects: culture, people and the asset.

Our framework comprises 15 elements which, both individually and combined, are designed to reduce risk by identifying areas for sustained improvement and best practice through process safety reviews and assessments, delivering improvements to asset performance and reducing risk.

What happens over the next 40 years of North Sea oil and gas and how we go about maximising economic recovery are issues that will be discussed at great length this month.

Central to our success is the need for robust safety management which not only protect our workers, the general public and the environment, but support business performance throughout the full lifecycle of our assets.

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