Risk management in the oil and gas industry : integration of human, organisational and technical factors
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- PhD theses (TN-IØRP) 
Original versionRisk management in the oil and gas industry : integration of human, organisational and technical factors by Jon Espen Skogdalen, Stavanger : University of Stavanger, 2011 (PhD thesis UiS, no. 142)
The overall objective of this thesis is to provide knowledge and tools for the major hazard risk assessment for offshore installations (and onshore plants) based on an improved understanding of the influence of organisational, human and technical (OMT) factors. This extensive objective was further described by the following sub-goals: 1. Identify and describe human and organisational barriers in risk analysis, 2. Provide knowledge regarding human, organisational and technical factors that influence safety barriers, 3. Define indicators that are suitable for the measurement of barrier performance, 4. Develop models for barrier performance reflecting human, organisational and technical factors These four sub-goals formed the basis for the more specific objectives in the articles. The Deepwater Horizon accident and Macondo blowout were important inputs for several of the articles. One important acknowledgement is that risk management of major hazards differs from managing occupational safety. Another is that managing risks in the oil and gas (O&G) industry demands a high level due to the potential severe consequences. Quantitative risk analyses/assessments (QRAs) are used for risk control in the O&G industry. An important part of the QRA process is to identify and describe barriers in risk analysis. A study of offshore QRAs (Skogdalen and Vinnem, 2011b) showed that there were large differences between the analyses regarding incorporation of human and organisational factors (HOFs). The study divided the QRAs into a four-level classification system. Level 1 QRAs did not describe or comment on HOFs at all. By contrast, relevant research projects were conducted to fulfil the requirements of level 3 analyses. At this level, there was a systematic collection of data related to HOFs. The methods for analyzing the data were systematic and documented, and the QRAs were adjusted according to the status of the HOFs. A second study of QRAs (Skogdalen and Vinnem, 2011a) revealed that the analyses largely only calculated the frequency of blowouts based on the number of drilling operations. The QRAs did not include HOFs related to drilling hazards. As seen in the Macondo blowout, most of the findings were related to HOFs such as work practice, competence, communication, procedures and management. Drilling is an iterative process where changes are made constantly. These changes add, remove or change human, organisational and technical risk influencing factors (RIFs) in order to mitigate hazards and control risks. QRAs have traditionally been focused on technical systems and capabilities. Much less attention has been given to HOFs. Revealing and understanding HOFs are of great importance for ensuring the intended safety barriers when conducting drilling operations. When a major hazard occurs on an installation, evacuation, escape and rescue (EER) operations play a vital role in safeguarding the lives of personnel. In a study (Skogdalen et al., 2011a), EER operations were divided into three categories depending on the hazard, time pressure and RIFs. The study contributes to an improved understanding of safety barriers during EER operations. Surveys are often used to measure the opinions about how organisational, human and technical factors influence safety barriers. A study (Skogdalen and Tveiten, 2011) showed that the perception and comprehension of safety differed significantly on Norwegian offshore installations between offshore installation managers (OIMs) and the rest of the organisation. The basis for the analysis was a safety climate survey completed by offshore petroleum employees on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. The OIMs had the most positive perception of the following factors: safety prioritisation, safety management and involvement, safety versus production, individual motivation and system comprehension. The different safety perception and comprehension may be influenced by group identity, different knowledge and control and issues of power and conflict. The phenomenon of different safety perception and comprehension between these groups is important to bear in mind when planning surveys as well as planning and implementing risk treatment measures. An important question with respect to the Macondo blowout is whether the accident is a symptom of systemic safety problems in the deepwater drilling industry. An answer to such a question is hard to obtain unless the risk level in the O&G industry is monitored and evaluated over time. The number of kicks is an important indicator of the whole drilling industry, because it is an incident with the potential to cause a blowout. Currently, the development and monitoring of safety indicators in the O&G industry seems to be limited to a short list of ―accepted‖ indicators, but there is a need for more extensive monitoring and understanding of correlation between indicators. Based on the experience of the Macondo blowout, possible indicators for drilling can be related to the subject areas: schedule and cost, well planning, operational aspects, well incidents, operators‘ well responses and the status of safety critical equipment. These indicators can be important inputs for QRAs as well as providing knowledge regarding how organisational, human and technical factors influence safety barriers (Skogdalen et al., 2011b). Accident investigation is the collection and examination of facts related to a specific incident. QRA is the systematic use of the available information to identify hazards and probabilities, and to predict the possible consequences to individuals or populations, property or the environment. Traditionally, QRA and accident investigation have been used separately; however, both methods describe hazards in a systematic way. The research related to including HOFs in QRA brings accident investigation and QRA closer together (Skogdalen and Vinnem, 2011). Over one hundred precursor incidents with the potential to cause major accidents in the North Sea O&G industry, are recorded every year. It is possible to combine accident investigation and QRA to develop new or improved models. This by using the available information from a precursor incident as input into the QRA methodology to identify hazards, probabilities, safety barriers and possible consequences (Skogdalen and Vinnem, 2011). This thesis argues for extended and multidisciplinary investigations of precursor incidents. Risk is managed at all levels of an organisation and in a socio-technical system. Communication between the stakeholders is essential, and unfortunately it often fails. More extensive analyses of precursor incidents can be the basis for improving the communication, management of change and understanding of potential accidents. There seems to be agreement among the stakeholders involved in the O&G industry that safety culture, operational aspects, technical conditions and the number of precursor incidents are influencing each other, but there is a lack of understanding on how and why. This understanding can be achieved by combining and improving existing methods within the framework and process of risk management. Examples of existing methods are: QRA, safety monitoring through the use of indicators, the investigation of precursor incidents and accident investigations. Integration of human, organisational and technical factors in risk assessments is a challenge that adds complexity to the existing models, but also can reduce the uncertainty. The more extensive use of indicators can support the monitoring and review process. This is important to ensure that a greater diversity of risk analysis tools actually support the improved management of risk. There is a need for extensive gathering of data across the O&G industry worldwide. Examples of data are unwanted events, precursor incidents, operational aspects and the technical conditions of safety critical equipment. Knowledge about the factors that influence risk as well as their interaction and status, is essential for managing risk and needs to be supported by data. The suggestions made in this thesis are only small steps in the process, and further research is necessary to: Improve methods for precursor incident reporting, Improve methods for precursor investigation, Extend the collection of safety indicators, Analyse the correlation among safety indicators, Improve the understanding of the correlation and possible use of safety indicators, Improve the data sets used in QRAs, and Establish an industry standard for how HOFs should be incorporated into QRAs.