Hydrocarbon Release Prevention Guidance document

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Member-led safety organisation Step Change in Safety (Step Change) is to launch guidance which outlines current best practice throughout the oil and gas industry in helping to prevent hydrocarbon releases (HCRs).

The Hydrocarbon Release Prevention Guidance, which will be freely available to the global oil and gas industry, will be launched at a Business Breakfast alongside the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Loss of Containment Inspection Guidance. There will also be presentations by the Step Change Asset Integrity Steering Group Co-Chairs Mike Backus and Craig Wiggins as well as HCR workgroup members Alan Blacklaw and Damon Bowler.

The HCR prevention resource consolidates and builds on legacy guidance and originated when members from the HCR workgroup – made up of representatives from operators, service providers and HSE – carried out peer to peer assessments, across 12 operators and their installations. The insights proved invaluable as they identified issues the industry currently faces and the various approaches taken to resolve them. 

Mike Backus, Vice President of Operations UK at Nexen /CNOOC UK said: “Prevention of hydrocarbon releases in our industry is one of the most important things we can focus on. Sharing our experiences, across the industry, is one way we can all do a better job in HCR prevention.

“The best practice guidelines are a culmination of effort from dedicated industry professionals who spent time examining practices across a number of operators. They were able to determine best practices as well as some key learnings, and have prepared this document to guide the industry in safer operations.”

The safety guidance focuses on key areas which, if acted upon, could have a significant impact on preventing HCRs, including; performance management, operational activities, investigations and learning, competency, integrity management, leadership, communication and engagement, and plans.

Craig Wiggins, Senior Vice President for Production Asset Services – Europe, Middle East and Africa at Aker Solutions said: “This document demonstrates much of the good work that already exists in our sector and is aligned with the direction that the HSE has been driving for a number of years. It’s a high-quality document that is available for everyone to use. Why wait?”

The document also recommends that operators adopt the guide as best practice; by fully committing to the various elements of the guide, they will ensure a significant reduction in overall Major Accident Hazard (MAH) risk exposure.

Discussing the importance of documents such as the HCR Prevention Guidance, Chris Flint, Director, HSE Energy Division, said: “Offshore oil and gas installations process vast quantities of flammable and toxic hydrocarbons on a daily basis, and ‘keeping it in the pipes’ is key to their safe operation. This is because a hydrocarbon release can be the starting point in a sequence of events, including fire and explosion, that leads to catastrophic loss of life. The Piper Alpha disaster is an enduring reminder of what can happen, when a hydrocarbon release occurs.”

The Business Breakfast will take place on Thursday, March 8, at the Step Change in Safety offices from 7.45am to 10am. To book a space please visit the Step Change in Safety website events pages.

Step Change in Safety is a tripartite member-led organisation which has more than 130 oil and gas employers, trades unions and regulator members has delivered significant and industry changing projects and guidance, including Safe Working Essentials, Workforce Engagement, Boots on for Safety, Joined-Up Thinking and Major Accident Hazard Understanding, which have been developed by and for its member.

To download the document click here.