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Challenges within maintenance management

Maintenance involves a combination of all technical and administrative actions – including management – which aim to maintain or restore a condition which fits a unit to perform a required function.

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Facilities with their systems and equipment suffer wear and tear, damage and destruction – and must accordingly be maintained.

An inadequate approach to such work can increase the risk of major incidents, damage and accidents. Responsibility for maintenance management rests with the industry.

This activity is in constant development through the adoption of new concepts, technology and methods. Ensuring that it has been tailored to requirements is important.

Maintenance management accordingly covers all management activities related to determining goals, strategies and responsibilities in this area, implementing them through such measures as maintenance planning, supervision and inspection, and improving methods in the organisation – including financial aspects.

The HSE regulations for Norway’s petroleum industry specify requirements for maintenance and its management, and we check that players comply with the regulations.

Deficient management
Experience from our supervision have identified several areas where improvements are required. These include:

  • little systematic development of maintenance expertise
  • inadequate application of maintenance expertise in an HSE perspective
  • projects where maintenance considerations are taken into account at too late a stage, requiring later modifications which should have been unnecessary
  • little attention paid to new risk aspects when introducing advanced technology for condition monitoring
  • inadequate reassessment of maintenance routines and frequency as equipment ages
  • classification of equipment is inadequate, and not systematic enough to permit choice of priorities, maintenance activities and frequency, and spare parts strategy.

Maintenance expertise
The petroleum industry has a continuous need to upgrade its maintenance expertise. This requirement is particularly strong for computerised maintenance systems and their continued development in relation to newer maintenance theories.

Our supervision has revealed that expertise requirements for maintenance functions are not defined in some of the companies, despite this being safety-critical.

Preventive maintenance
The main rule is that facilities must be maintained in such a way that they are capable of performing their intended functions in all phases of their economic lives.

Preventive maintenance is accordingly intended to eliminate faults which would have HSE consequences and negative effects for operating regularity and material assets.

Such work aims to identify and maintain critical functions and to identify equipment faults which could lead to the loss of critical functions.

This is because safety-critical barriers must function when required. The players also need applicable and cost-effective maintenance methods based on the way the equipment could fail in various contexts.

Maintenance and safety
Maintenance is indissolubly linked with safety in a number of ways. Errors in planning, executing or checking maintenance could cause system faults.

Inadequate or erroneous maintenance may also mean that existing failure or degradation is not discovered and corrected – and thereby contribute to production shut-downs, work accidents and/or major incidents.

Aging facilities
The petroleum industry on the NCS faces major challenges in coming years with regard to aging facilities.

Technical condition must be maintained in the tail production phase, while new modes of operation (e-operation) as well as organisational and technical change processes are often implemented when revenues decline.