Original assumptions made about facilities and technologies used by the whole range of sub-sectors that make up the energy industry are being put to the test. In land-based storage and manufacturing activities, offshore exploration, production and transportation, many installations are approaching or have already passed their design life. Operators are having to make difficult judgements about whether they can continue operating the plant beyond what had been originally envisaged when it was installed, for how long they can continue and how they decommission when the time comes. Risks associated with all of these options need to be properly managed. This article focuses on the health and safety challenges arising from life extension, with particular attention being given to the process safety and asset integrity management issues that need to be considered to achieve this. By reviewing past events such as the Flixborough and Texas City disasters and analysing the underlying failures that allowed them to happen, the article will translate the broader principles of effective process safety management that have been developed as a result of lessons learnt and set out how they apply to this subject. The article will also give an example of how the UK Health and Safety Executive is approaching this issue by including details of its ongoing work with the offshore oil and gas sector to ensure the continued integrity of North Sea assets in order to ultimately deliver the effective control of risk.
|Number of pages
|Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Forensic Engineering
|Published - Nov 2011