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Risk and risk understanding

No activity can be conducted without risk, but this risk can be managed. Our job is help ensure that petroleum operations are pursued in an integrated, managed and acceptable manner.





























Two questions concern us above all others:

  • how can we identify risk?
  • most importantly, how can we manage it?

Identifying risk, with an associated understanding of possible accident scenarios and consequences, represents the basis for all safety work.

Understanding risk is necessary in order to

  • prevent accidents
  • establish an appropriate emergency response
  • reduce uncertainty.

Risk is not a static and innate characteristic of a given activity, which cannot be influenced. It develops over time in step with such aspects as

  • activities pursued
  • measures adopted
  • learning from accidents
  • errors and successes
  • application of new technology
  • development of working methods
  • updating regulations
  • follow-up activities by both the industry and government agencies.

Risk analyses
As a decision support tool, risk analyses form part of the basis for managing risk. Risk analyses and studies seek to obtain the greatest possible insight into the enterprise, including the identification of knowledge gaps.

The aim is to understand how hazards can arise and develop in order to implement the most appropriate measures where they can be most effective in

  • avoiding a risk developing into an actual accident
  • minimising the consequences of a possible accident.

Risk analyses must necessarily build on some assumptions and assessments, which are based to a varying degree on experience, knowledge, scientific methods and expectations of the future.

An understanding of the basis on which such analyses build and the limitations they incorporate is accordingly crucial.

The analyst must accordingly clarify what they know and do not know, what is history and what assessments of the future, and what opportunities are available for influencing operations so that they can be conducted in an acceptable manner.

Nor must the results or figures generated by risk analyses overshadow the point of conducting them: to obtain the knowledge need to control risk in each activity.

A risk analysis process enhances risk understanding in order to implement risk-reduction measures.

What is risk?
The traditional way of describing risk in an analytic context is as probability times consequences, calculated through various risk values or categories.

In certain contexts, moreover, it can be appropriate to compare risks in order to acquire a perspective on their comparative importance in an activity.

But this approach to defining risk is too narrow and limiting for the ability to understand, administer and manage activities and enterprises.

On that basis, risk can be defined as the consequences of an activity with the associated uncertainty.

Quantitative or qualitative analyses, assessments or comments retailed to this uncertainty, and thereby the risk, must always be viewed in relation to who is conducting the analysis. Uncertainty is somebody’s uncertainty about what the consequences will be.