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Audit of design of control room and alarm systems

During the period 19 - 20 May 2003 an audit of Statoil was conducted concerning the design of the control room and alarm systems for the Snøhvit project. The audit was conducted in accordance with land-based and offshore-based regulatory requirements in line with the cooperation agreement between the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD), the Directorate of Labour Inspection and the Directorate for Fire and Electrical safety (now the Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning).

Background for the audit

The NPD has in recent years conducted a number of audits of control room design and alarm systems. These audits have shown that alarm systems in general have major weaknesses with regard to ensuring that control room personnel have the necessary support for handling incidents.

The audits have also shown that the design of new control rooms is not sufficiently based on a systematic evaluation of the users' needs based on the tasks that control room personnel are to carry out.

Experiences from the audits of Statoil in this area are varied. It has proven to be a challenge for Statoil to ensure that weaknesses and deficiencies pointed out in the NPD's audit reports lead to necessary improvements in new projects.

Previous audits have particularly identified weaknesses in projects with regard to management and planning, application of recognized Human Factor (HF) principles in establishing a decision-making basis and measurable requirements, plus follow-up through verification and validation.

At the same time Statoil has implemented an internal process to strengthen development and design of safety-critical work systems.

In two previous audits, the NPD issued orders to Statoil for deficiencies in managing the design process.

In this audit the Snøhvit project is evaluated against this background.

">Read more about control room design

Purpose of the audit

The purpose of the audit was to evaluate whether the development of the central control room (CCR) for Snøhvit takes place in compliance with current regulatory requirements for land-based and offshore-based facilities.

The audit was also to provide an assessment of whether the development process takes place in compliance with recognized norms and principles for development of safety-critical work systems.

In addition to the audit contributing to utilization of experiences from the audits of other similar projects, the audit was also to identify matters that can contribute to improving the development process and the solutions established.

Result of the audit

The audit identified that the organization of the CCR design in the Snøhvit project was deficient in relation to regulatory requirements with regard to establishment of the organization and expertise, clarification of responsibilities of individuals and qualification/follow-up of suppliers.

The audit also revealed that the Snøhvit project had not conducted the analyses and evaluations required in accordance with the regulations, and which are necessary to ensure the development of good requirements for funtionality in the CCR, and to test that functional requirements are achieved.

The risk of human errors in the control room having serious consequences had not been sufficiently evaluated in relation to the criticality of the tasks to be carried out by the control room personnel.

On the basis of this audit the NPD has issued a notification of order to Statoil.