Maintaining safe and reliable operations is an essential component of any successful petroleum production organization. Recently, ExxonMobil conducted two studies of major incidents, both designed to identify improvement opportunities of operations integrity management processes. One study reviewed in detail seven fatality incidents which occurred in the 1998-2003 timeframe; a second study focused on 50 significant equipment/property damage incidents in the 1998-2004 timeframe.
Findings from these two studies were similar. The results validated several existing enhancement initiatives and have provided a basis for focusing improvement efforts in those areas where the potential benefits are greatest. Among the findings of the study:
· Many of the reviewed incidents occurred as the result of seemingly small gaps in multiple safeguards associated with routine or lower risk activities.
· Potential hazards are sometimes underestimated, often based on an absence of prior local experience.
· Even experienced personnel may inadequately consider the hazards or potential impacts of abnormal conditions on operating decisions.
· Broadly sharing synopses of incidents does not assure adequate preventive actions by report recipients.
· Managing performance expectations across extended contractor/sub-contractor chains poses a continuing challenge.
A number of follow-up actions resulting from the incident study are now underway. Improvement opportunities are focussing on hazard recognition and HAZOP practices, competency assurance, incident analysis and sharing best practices, and contractor relationships. Such actions will further enhance safety management/operations integrity processes, reinforcing ExxonMobil’s commitment to “Nobody Gets Hurt!”