Compartment Studies

As part of the findings from the investigation into the Piper Alpha disaster Lord Cullen required that duty holders of offshore installations in the UK sector of the North Sea carry out what were known as “Forthwith Studies”. These studies were in advance of the 1992 Safety Case Regulations, and were intended to allow those in charge of the objects in the sea to determine whether they were safe.

One of the techniques used was the Compartment Study, where a small group of rig or platform personnel moved from compartment to compartment on the unit with a facilitator, and determined what the potential was for flooding, fire or explosion. Hence, typically, the lack of combustible items decreased the risk of fire and provision of fire detection, and extinguishing systems decreased the potential consequences.

This particular risk assessment process can still be carried out to enhance the studies used to fulfill the requirements of the Safety Case, which is of course for the duty holders to assure themselves, and the UK CA or other regulatory body, that the risks related to the existence and operation of the unit are As Low As Reasonably Practicable (ALARP).