Oil & Gas UK has underlined its commitment to tackling the health and safety issues around ageing infrastructure and life extension of assets, with the publication of a new management system guidance document.
The publication has been designed to help duty holders effectively manage asset ageing and aid the decision making process around extending the use of equipment and infrastructure past the originally anticipated service life.
With up to 24 billion barrels of oil and gas reserves still remaining in the UKCS, technological advances in exploration, reserves recovery and production have meant that many installations are required to operate past their originally planned service life. With an increasing dependence on existing infrastructure to act as ‘hubs’ in the development of new fields, the industry recognised the need to put in place measures to robustly maintain these facilities so that they remain fit for purpose for the longer term.
In early 2011, the oil and gas industry in collaboration with the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) embarked on a programme to direct additional attention and effort to asset ageing and life extension issues. The Ageing and Life Extension Work Group was formed under the auspices of Oil & Gas UK and featured topic experts from a cross-section of the UK oil and gas industry.
The guidance document is the product of this work group and has been designed to complement other existing guidance on subjects such as asset integrity and hydrocarbon release reduction.
Oil & Gas UK’s health and safety policy manager, Bob Lauder, said: “there are of course many mature assets in the UK offshore sector but given that ageing is a process that needs to be managed; this guidance in fact applies to all assets irrespective of age.
“It’s important to stress that the term ‘ageing’ does not equate to ‘unsafe’ or ‘not fit for purpose’. With the right management approach, there is no reason why ageing infrastructure cannot be maintained to be operated safely and effectively well beyond its originally conceived service life.
“The industry has recognised the need to focus attention on this area and the publication and promotion of this guidance is just one aspect of a wider industry effort. Oil & Gas UK expects duty holders to adopt the guidance and integrate it into their management systems. In the longer-term, more technical work will be published around specific hardware aspects of ageing and life extension.
“There are still huge reserves of oil and gas left in the North Sea so it is vitally important we keep our infrastructure well maintained and above all, safe for the long term.
“This is a challenge that simply must be met. The alternative means premature decommissioning of key infrastructure and leaving vast valuable reserves untapped.”
The publication can be found on Oil & Gas UK website.
Source: Oil & Gas UK, May 2, 2012