"In brief, robustness is about the companies ensuring that they always have the safety margins that allow them to deal with unforeseen incidents", says the PSA's Kristen Kjeldstad.
Robustness is one of the special focus areas for the year's main theme of Reversing the trend. One important aspect of the work so far has been to increase the industry's understanding and awareness of robustness and robust solutions. Kjeldstad and her colleagues in the steering group for the work on robustness have held many meetings and presentations for the industry about reversing the trend and about robustness. This has yielded results.
"We are finding that there is now better understanding of what we as a supervisory authority mean by robustness – that it includes operational, organisational and technical factors, and that genuine employee participation is an important prerequisite for establishing robust solutions.
We have presented Reversing the trend – the background to and objective of the main theme, and what we mean by robustness – to the parties in various industry forums, at conferences and in status meetings with the operating companies and the largest contractors. In the presentations, we have employed specific examples of insufficiently robust solutions from investigations and audits relevant to the actors present in the various arenas.
For example, for presentations in the drilling/well disciplines, we have used examples concerning changes in drilling and wells, with extensive repetitive changes on the individual facility, increased cross-training without adequate instruction, deficient clarification of duties in operations as well as failure, hazard and accident situations, and inadequate risk assessments of the changes, disregarding recognised methods."
The PSA monitors the industry's work on robustness through audits focused on
- overall systems and management
- verifications at the sharp end in order to see how the company is specifically ensuring the robustness of technical facilities
- how the organisation is structured to achieve robust planning and execution of the activities.
We also check that the companies are developing operating parameters in their contracts that ensure safe operation and robust solutions.
"So far this year, a variety of audit activities focused on robustness have been undertaken", reports Kjeldstad.
"We have implemented an audit series concerning the planning and execution of drilling/well operations in which we examine the quality of drilling plans and the involvement of contractors in the planning process. Earlier findings concerning a lack of robustness in well design, plans and the execution of drilling/well operations will be followed up through an audit series that includes operators, drilling contractors and drilling service companies. We are looking for robustness in both the capacity and expertise of the personnel involved and the technical solutions.
We have also undertaken an audit series comprising meetings with drilling service companies and drilling contractors about their involvement in the drilling/well planning processes. This series of meetings has created an important foundation for the audit series focused on the operators' operating organisations.
We have an audit series on structural safety and maritime factors on ageing mobile facilities. Themes include robustness in the landside organisations, lifecycle challenges and barriers within structures and marine systems as well as analyses of loads relating to waves on deck. In the audits, we focus on robustness in the context of ageing mechanisms.
The companies' management of robust preparedness is a theme for another audit series. The industry is undertaking a variety of reorganisation processes and streamlining measures in order to adapt to lower cost levels. But the participants' obligations to ensure prudent activities, continuous improvement and risk reduction are equally relevant in times of change. The audit attaches importance to risks being assessed individually and in combination prior to decisions being taken, and to the adopted measures safeguarding emergency preparedness in both the short and long terms.
Audit reports are published at ptil.no as and when they are ready, making them available to the rest of the industry. The value of this information sharing is substantial", confirms Kjeldstad.
"From experience, we know that audit series often encourage the companies to read audit reports from similar companies prior to us coming to audit them, and, based on these reports, to implement their own initiatives in advance", says Kjeldstad.
What are robust solutions?
Robust solutions mean that the companies must be certain they always have the safety margins which allow them to deal with unforeseen incidents. Robust solutions help to ensure that hazardous conditions are identified and managed effectively, with sufficient time and resources made available.
Requirements for robust solutions apply to technology, capacity, expertise, organisation and management. They cover all phases of a facility's working life, from newer installations and operating concepts to facilities and plants in late life.
Many of the preconditions for good follow-up of robustness, both for technical solutions and for organisation of work, are determined by contracts. This makes it important that the people who work on contracts are fully aware of what robustness involves.