Developing a safety case

Oil & gas

Knowledge and previous experience paid dividends in achieving safety case acceptance from the UK Health and Safety Executive for a new decommissioning asset.

Well-Safe Solutions had acquired the Ocean Guardian semi-submersible drilling unit to convert into a bespoke plug and abandonment unit.

There has been a significant increase in decommissioning activity in the North Sea - and in particular plugging and abandonment (P&A).

Well-Safe Solutions acquired the Ocean Guardian semi-submersible drilling unit during 2019 with the intention of converting it into a bespoke plug and abandonment unit.

But first they needed to gain UK Health and Safety Executive Safety Case acceptance for new decommissioning asset.

The story of Well-Safe Solutions

Well-Safe Solutions offers a specialist well abandonment service that allows operators to meet the challenges and regulatory requirements around decommissioning, while significantly reducing costs.

They provide a groundbreaking approach to the safe and cost-efficient decommissioning of on and offshore wells.

Bringing together a wealth of decommissioning oil and gas expertise and experience with dedicated bespoke marine and land-based assets and equipment, Well-Safe is the first-of-its-kind Tier 1 company offering the complete plug and abandonment (P&A) capability –  from front-end engineering and design, through to project execution and the retention and reintroduction of lessons learned.

The challenge of developing a safety case

As a new entrant into the offshore industry, Well-Safe Solutions had the task of complying with the requirements of Safety Case Regulations SCR 2015. 

They had acquired the Ocean Guardian semi-submersible drilling unit during 2019 with the intention of converting it into a bespoke plug and abandonment unit.

However, a change of ownership is a material change that needs a new safety case submission to the UK regulator.

Why Well-Safe Solutions chose Marex

Marex already knew the rig, having been involved with the Ocean Guardian safety case submissions with its previous owners.

When we learned that the rig was to be taken over by Well-Safe Solutions, we contacted them and had discussions with key individuals, talking them through the work required to achieve safety case acceptance and where Marex could support the process.

Well-Safe Solutions appreciated our reputation in the field, as well as our experience and knowledge of the asset, so contracted us to develop the updated HSE case.

How Marex responded

The Well-Safe Guardian HSE case was developed by Marex’s team of experienced risk consultants in accordance with the IADC HSE case guidelines.

We worked alongside the Well-Safe Solutions team to prepare the scope in an organised and thorough way.

The scope of work included the review and revision of the associated formal safety assessments, including the following:

  • hazard register
  • bowtie major accident hazard analysis
  • summary of operational boundaries (SOOB)
  • fire and explosion analysis
  • escape, evacuation and rescue analysis
  • emergency systems survivability analysis
  • quantitative risk assessment
  • PFEER (Prevention of Fire and Explosion, and Emergency Response) assessment

Marex consultants facilitated a formal safety assessment study workshop with key stakeholders including onshore management and offshore department supervisors.

The hazard register and major accident hazard bowties were reviewed to ensure that the identified major accident hazard risks could be maintained ALARP.

As a new company to the sector, this proved to be a useful exercise for Well-Safe Solutions in determining the policies, standards and operating procedures needing developed in order to achieve safe operation of the unit.

The results

Marex risk manager and director Neil Smeaton said: “The retained knowledge of the asset that our team had gained prior to Well-Safe Solutions’ acquisition was a definite bonus.

“It allowed us to offer our informed expertise and guidance and support the smooth transition of the rig into its new role as a bespoke plug and abandonment unit.”

Marex’s support extended beyond the initial submission of the HSE Case, and included the provision of support during the Offshore Safety Directive Regulator (OSDR) safety case assessment period.

The Well-Safe Guardian HSE Case was duly accepted by the UK OSDR in December 2019, keeping Well-Safe Solutions on track for operational readiness by 1 April 2020.

The Well-Safe team hailed it as a fantastic achievement, acknowledging the hard work that everyone had invested into the project.

“This milestone is a vital building block ensuring hazards to health, safety and the environment onboard the Well-Safe Guardian are fully understood, controlled and mitigated, and will facilitate the provision of a fully integrated, bespoke decommissioning asset,” said a company representative.

Read more about how we continue to support the Well-Safe Guardian.

Want to find out more about how we can give you peace of mind with our risk-based approach that creates operational efficiency, enhanced safety performance and assurance of compliance?

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Neil Smeaton

Neil Smeaton Risk manager and director

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