UK to Halve Accidental Hydrocarbon Leaks Over the Next 3 Years

In a move to drive further reductions in the number of accidental hydrocarbon releases in the UK oil and gas industry, companies have committed jointly to cut leaks on their offshore installations by 50 per cent over the next three years.

As a result of unremitting efforts by the industry working collaboratively through Step Change in Safety, the UK’s flagship offshore safety initiative, the number of accidental hydrocarbon releases has already almost halved since 1997. Industry-wide workshops, the sharing of best practice on asset integrity, and the development and use of toolkits and guidance documents led to an early period of sustained year-on-year reductions. However, in recent years, this progress appears to have stalled and the industry is keen to kick-start a further downward push on the statistics.

While the new 50 per cent reduction target has been agreed by the UK offshore oil and gas industry as a whole, Step Change in Safety has asked the managing directors of its member companies to build this reduction target into their business plans.

Step Change in Safety’s co-chair John Forrest (Photo), who is also Talisman’s senior vice president & UK country manager, said: “I am very pleased by this strong commitment to tackle hydrocarbon releases and I’m encouraged that senior industry leaders across the board have taken this opportunity to prove they put safety at the very forefront.

“Since Step Change in Safety was created in 1997, there has been a 44 per cent reduction in major and significant hydrocarbon releases. However, the last few years have shown the numbers of hydrocarbon releases have been ‘flat-lining’.

“We all took the decision that now is the time to bolster our efforts in order to drive this figure down even further.

“There are multiple barriers in place to stop releases of oil and gas. However, it’s important to remember that, even if they do occur, there are further multiple barriers to prevent them from escalating into a more serious incident. Needless to say, however, safety is paramount and minimising the likelihood of a release occurring in the first place must come first.”

While the responsibility for the halving of hydrocarbon releases will fall first and foremost to the companies managing the UK’s offshore oil and gas installations, Step Change in Safety will drive the reduction at an industry level by sharing with its member companies the analyses of the root causes of incidents, addressing the management of ageing assets, and circulating best practice, supported in particular by the experiences of the top performing companies.

Step Change in Safety comprises industry, trade unions and regulators to prevent people getting hurt in the UK oil and gas industry. Its goal is to make the UK the safest place to work in the worldwide oil and gas industry. Click here for more information on Step Change in Safety.

In the past decade, major and significant hydrocarbon releases have decreased from over 110 in 2001/02 to 85 in 2009/10, but has remained ‘flat-lining’ in the 85 to 60 range in the past six years.

Source:OilandgasUK, January  11, 2011;

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