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December 23, 2010

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Asset-integrity shortcomings highlighted in HSE report

The physical condition of offshore installations visited by the HSE as part of a major assessment project ranged from good to poor.

This is the conclusion of a report into the Executive’s External Corrosion Management Inspection Project, which the Offshore Division (OSD) undertook from July 2007 to March this year.

The project was kick-started in response to the HSE’s KP3 initiative on offshore asset integrity, which found that in more than half of the installations inspected the state of the plant was considered to be poor.

The aim of the follow-up corrosion management inspections was to assess whether duty-holders have effective maintenance management systems in place for various components, including walkways and stairways, piping and pipe supports, cable trays and fittings, bolts, flanges and valves.

A total of 30 inspections were completed as part of the project, with safety-related plant and equipment found to be the “poor relation” within many organisations’ cultures.

The HSE found that although duty-holders used performance indicators, these were largely focused on safety-critical aspects of inspection and maintenance and failed to specifically measure the condition of safety-related plant and equipment. According to the regulator, this made it difficult to assess whether the condition of such plant was improving or deteriorating.

During the project, the majority of installations inspected were considered to require improvement to the physical condition of plant and equipment. On six occasions, an Improvement Notice was served in this regard.

Four further Improvement Notices were served in cases where duty-holders had failed to adopt standards set by the Energy Institute, or of an equivalent level, for repair/replacement decision-making of relevant plant and equipment.

As a result of the project findings, the OSD has decided to undertake a further programme of external corrosion inspections carrying through into next year. These will: follow up on the poorer performers identified in the original project; undertake inspections of duty-holders not covered in the first wave; and monitor the effective implementation of the published industry guidance.

The full report can be found on the HSE’s website at: www.hse.gov.uk/offshore/corrosion.htm

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