The study elucidated challenges in subsea infrastructure of varying design, age, lifespan and condition and where changes in operating conditions have occurred or are expected.
Regardless of the design standards employed or the operational preconditions, it examined how changes in operations are handled, while meeting the regulatory requirements for barrier management, risk reduction, continuous improvement, learning and experience transfer.
The study also looked at how new knowledge, methodologies and technologies for improved integrity management are assessed and implemented in respect of pipelines and subsea installations.
In 2020, we had two studies carried out on pipelines and subsea installations, by Wood and DNV.
- Wood – ‘Management of integrity from wellhead to facility’
- DNV – ‘Integrity management and condition monitoring of pipelines and subsea equipment’
The first study largely focussed on design and preconditions for operation of installations, while the second looked at leveraging available knowledge and information in order to improve the integrity management of subsea assets.
This report takes these two studies from 2020 as its basis and builds on their results and conclusions. It seeks to shed light on ways of securing better management of the technical integrity of pipelines and subsea installations and ensuring that knowledge and experience are used to reduce risk.
Need for systematisation of information
Monitoring of the condition and integrity of pipelines and subsea installations is a key prerequisite for avoiding hydrocarbon leaks, for reducing operational risk and for maintaining a high level of safety in the petroleum industry.
A lot of information is available from data from normal operations, instrumentation, inspections, modifications, incidents, investigations, etc. There is still potential here for improving the systematisation of this information and using modern tools and technologies to acquire more and better information about the integrity of systems. The report observes that approaches to using available information in order to ameliorate integrity management and contribute to continuous improvement and risk reduction are currently too weak and insufficiently systematic.
The Management Regulations, section 4 concerning risk reduction, section 5 concerning barriers, section 7 concerning objectives and strategies, section 9 concerning acceptance criteria for major accident risk and environmental risk, and section 23 concerning continuous improvement, stipulate that the responsible parties in all phases of the petroleum activities shall monitor barriers, define and further develop objectives and strategies, and set acceptance criteria for major accident risk and environmental risk. These exemplify aspects that must be monitored in order to ensure that the requirements for risk reduction and continuous improvement are being met.
Furthermore, the Activities Regulations, section 20 concerning start-up and operation of facilities, section 21 concerning competence, and section 50 concerning special requirements for technical condition monitoring of structures, maritime systems and pipeline systems, stipulate requirements for the operation of facilities in respect of technical solutions, organisation and competence that shall contribute to safe operation and ensure learning and the transfer of experiences.
The work encompassed the following topics with reference to the integrity of pipeline systems and subsea installations:
- management of operational risk
- monitoring of barriers
- objectives, strategies and acceptance criteria for major accident and environmental risk
- operation of facilities including technical solutions, organisation, competence and change management
- maintenance and inspections
- changes and modifications
- overview of technologies and solutions that can contribute to risk reduction and continuous improvement
- initiatives for improvement and experience transfer