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Audit of BP’s follow-up of new work processes

On 9 November 2010, the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) conducted an audit of BP Norge’s follow-up of new work processes within drilling and well activities using information and communication technology (ICT).

The PSA is to have an overview of HSE challenges in petroleum activities and contribute to creating an authorised, comprehensive picture of risk in the industry as a basis for implementing preventive measures.

Controlling the risk of major accidents requires an understanding of the complex interaction between people, technology and organisation.

The introduction of new information and communication technology with the accompanying new work processes creates challenges shared by many players in the petroleum activities.

The audit activity directed towards BP and their follow-up of new work processes within drilling and well activities using information and communication technology (ICT), was initiated in order to contribute to the development of robust work processes and the improvement of safety.

Through the audit, the PSA wanted to verify that BP is ensuring that work processes within drilling and well activities and decisions from these, take health, safety and environment (HSE) requirements into account.

The following topics were notified of in advance and included in the inspection:

  • Current organisation of drilling and well activities
    • Decisions and support for decisions
    • Challenges identified in relation to this organisation, if any 
  • Work processes related to control of changes, for instance changes in drilling programs
    • Basis for decisions
    • Transparency / documentation of changes
  • Collection, processing and use of real time data
  • Simulation and visualisation as support for decisions
  • Human factors
    • How have human factors been taken into consideration when developing the work process
    • Requirements regarding staffing, expertise and capacity
    • User-friendliness
    • Building trust between onshore and offshore and between operator and suppliers
  • Interface management
  • Integration of disciplines and players
  • Facilitation of interaction between players
  • The role of the operations centre on land
    • Reasons and objectives
    • Use in ordinary operations and in hazard and accident situations
  • ICT safety
    • Roles and responsibility for safeguarding ICT safety onshore and offshore
    • Classification of equipment which may affect ICT safety
    • The greatest challenge within ICT safety


BP had started using a land-based operations centre for drilling operations on one of its facilities, and presented their experiences with this. The operations centre (OOC) was undergoing technical improvements and being expanded in area when the inspection was carried out. BP went over plans for further use.

The PSA’s impression is that BP had made preparations to allow for good cooperation with the supplier of OOC services. Further, OOC enabled involvement of support functions in BP’s onshore organisation in connection with decision processes to do with drilling operations. 

The basis for decisions regarding further development and choice of solutions in the upgraded OOC did not appear systematically documented. It was mentioned that a documented process of change had been completed for technical solutions in accordance with the steering document Management of Change.

Organisational changes since start up of the OOC in 2002 had however not been documented in accordance with BP’s own steering document Management of Change. We were given the impression that ICT management was not an integrated part of the company’s HSE work within drilling and well activities.

The inspection identified a nonconformity regarding inadequate documentation and traceability in the basis for decisions for the OOC. In addition, the following improvement items were identified:

• Deficient documentation of ownership and maintenance responsibility for sensors
• Deficient adaption for building relationships between land and sea
• Deficient ICT safety in new work processes