The interplay between integrated operations and operative risk assessments and judgements in offshore oil and gas
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The introduction of integrated operations (IO) has provided the oil and gas industry with new operational concepts. These have provided new information and communication technologies, changed work processes and the use of advanced collaboration facilities that support collaboration across disciplines, organizations and companies. Vast changes like this will also impact on risk management practices for major accident risk. The objective of this study was thus to explore the impact on risk management approaches used in the industry as a result of the introduction of IO. In the light of this objective three research questions were developed which were investigated through four main empirical studies. In these interviews, a survey, document and literature reviews and observation were used. The research questions and their empirical foundation were answered and presented in four research papers. The first research question explored risk analysis and risk management challenges and possibilities for fields operating in an IO context. Generally, these were related both to the formal and structured risk management process and to risk management embedded in the way people actually work. The challenges were: to look for other inputs to risk analyses; to identify and address human and organizational factors which may influence risk of major accidents; and to develop resilience-based approaches that support actual risk assessment practices. The possibilities were: to improve follow-up of practices and use of risk analyses and risk assessments in daily work, closer contact between risk analysts and installation competence; utilisation of technological solutions in risk analyses; and use of organizational and technical IO solutions to strengthen resilient abilities. The second research question followed up on the previous finding that because of IO it is necessary to look for other inputs to risk analyses and to identify and address human and organizational factors related to IO. Based on interviews with industry professional and a literature review these factors were outlined. They were: lack of competence and awareness; inadequate work arrangements; complex collaboration processes; insufficient means of communication: lack of information; and poor inter-human relations. Particular safety methods that could be used or extended to manage and mitigate their potential negative aspects are risk analysis methods, safety methods for design and modifications, human factors safety methods and organizational development methods. The third research question followed up an empirical finding in Research Question 1 that in daily operation few risk analysis methods are used. Rather, people rely on formal procedures, plant-specific competence and informal processes without use of systematic risk analysis methods. Thus, this research question explored through two case studies how operators actually approach and assess major accident risk in their planning of daily activities. Understanding these practices is important to establish IO solutions that support instead of hamper them. The methods and approaches used were all qualitative, and revealed the same judgment strategy of identifying potential safety problems and finding remedial actions to handle them. To identify problems people emphasised signals within the three categories of ‘equipment’, ‘people’ and ‘worksite’, which were judged according to the four dimensions of ‘quality’, ‘availability’, ‘limitations’, and ‘preconditions’. Embedded in these judgements are some characteristics which are important for further implementation of IO: there were differences in the signals emphasised by onshore and offshore workers; only some of the signals can be transferred onshore; and, the judgements provide important contributions to resilience and High Reliability Organizations. For platforms that still rely on some offshore manning, it is therefore necessary to arrange for continued utilisation of the identified signals in the further implementation of IO. The final conclusion of the thesis is thus that: with the introduction of IO it is necessary to make dedicated efforts to strengthen risk management, both the formal and structured risk management process and risk management embedded in the way people actually work. In particular, the potential negative impact on major accident risk can be mitigated by carefully identifying and addressing human and organizational factors related to IO and selecting suitable safety methods for addressing them, as well as utilising IO solutions that support important risk judgement processes embedded in present practice.