Conventional risk management methods alone may not be sufficient to identify failures in complex subsea systems, such as the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, according to Morten Nilstad Pettersen, a risk management consultant at Scandpower AS.
He said most accidents, such as Deepwater Horizon, occur due to a series of complex and interlinked failures, often caused by human decision-making, and that conventional quantitative risk management analyses should be supplemented with creative multidisciplinary methods to help detect such failures.
“The focus of conventional quantitative risk management methods is mainly related to generic hazards,” he said.
“The total risk picture can be obtained by supplementing these methods with multidisciplinary methods, such as HAZard and OPerability (HAZOP), which identify the operational specific or interface hazards that cause most failures in subsea systems.”
Speaking ahead of the Subsea Australasia Conference in Perth, Pettersen said Norwegian authorities required subsea operators to perform proactive qualitative risk management methods during a project life and many operators had come to favour HAZOP, a well-known risk assessment method based on the principle that a team approach to hazard analysis will identify more problems than when individuals working separately combine results.
Pettersen said Australia’s fast-growing subsea industry could learn much from the experiences of operators in the Norwegian Continental Shelf.
“All transfer of experience and knowledge is beneficial for new projects. The Norwegian way of using the HAZOP methodology is particularly relevant for Australia as we are facing the same challenges with subsea installations,” he said.
“To be able to identify and mitigate operational failures is always important whether a subsea facility is located in the Norwegian Continental Shelf or the North West Shelf of Western Australia.”