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May 8, 2012

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Safe management of mature offshore infrastructure

Oil & Gas UK has underlined its commitment to tackling the health and safety issues around ageing infrastructure and life extension of assets, with the publication of new guidance.

The publication has been designed to help duty-holders make sensible decisions when managing and extending the use of equipment and infrastructure past the originally anticipated service life.

Early last year, the oil and gas industry, in collaboration with the HSE, embarked on a programme focusing on asset ageing and life-extension issues. Under the auspices of Oil & Gas UK, the Ageing and Life Extension Work Group was formed and features experts from a cross-section of the offshore industry.

The guidance document is the product of this work group and has been designed to complement other existing guidance on subjects such as asset integrity and reducing the release of hydrocarbons.

Oil & Gas UK’s health and safety policy manager, Bob Lauder, said: “It’s important to stress that the term ‘ageing’ does not equate to ‘unsafe’ or ‘not fit for purpose’. With the right management approach, there is no reason why ageing infrastructure cannot be maintained to be operated safely and effectively well beyond its originally conceived service life.”

Technological advances in exploration, reserves recovery and production have meant that many installations are required to operate past their originally planned service life. Furthermore, with an increasing dependence on existing infrastructure to act as ‘hubs’ in the development of new fields, the industry recognised the need to put in place measures to help maintain these facilities, so that they remain fit for purpose for the longer term.

Commented Lauder: “The industry has recognised the need to focus attention on this area and the publication and promotion of this guidance is just one aspect of a wider industry effort. Oil & Gas UK expects duty-holders to adopt the guidance and integrate it into their management systems. In the longer-term, more technical work will be published around specific hardware aspects of ageing and life extension.

“There are still huge reserves of oil and gas left in the North Sea, so it is vitally important we keep our infrastructure well maintained and, above all, safe for the long term.”

The guidance document can be found at www.oilandgasuk.co.uk/publications/viewpub.cfm?frmPubID=436

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