Bureau Veritas: Still a Long Way to Go for Full OSD Compliance
The Offshore Safety Directive has been one of the main topics at this year’s Offshore Energy Exhibition and Conference in Amsterdam.
The implementation of the directive, which entered into force in July 2015, has raised many eyebrows as numerous uncertainties remain on the best approach to becoming compliant and focusing on key safety factors.
World Maritime News spoke with representatives of the classification society Bureau Veritas, Hubert Ledoux, Risk and Safety Manager for Europe Zone, and Yvo Jansen, Chief Executive for and Director of Industry for Benelux and Nordic, to learn more about the implementation of the directive from the point of view of an independent verification body.
The role of Bureau Veritas in helping companies implement the directive covers two segments. The first is to provide verification, as the directive requires an independent verification body to check the assets according to a verification scheme, to be developed by the relevant duty holder. The second role relates to providing consultancy services to companies and helping them prepare a safety case, a core document required by the new directive, and guide them through the process of attaining compliance.
WMN: What would you say are the key challenges with the implementation of the new directive that companies face?
Ledoux: The key challenge is to have an optimized verification scheme because the directive is not that much prescriptive when it comes to selecting safety critical elements. Therefore, there is no thorough rule about what should be selected as a safety critical element as there is just a general definition. This also applies to the level of detail in the approaches that should be used in checking the compliance and selecting the performance criteria. On the other hand, should the verification process be performed with the same level of detail on all safety critical elements whatever their criticality; the implementation of the directive would prove to be very costly for the duty holder.
What BV can provide in this respect is experience so as to assist the duty holder to develop a rather optimized approach to verification. Bureau Veritas is taking a risk-based approach in developing this scheme and the main driving factor in preparing the verification scheme is the risk assessment of assets.
Jansen: Aside to risk mitigation and the experience we contribute, the third added value is the reduction of maintenance costs and resolving ad hoc emergency situations in cases where noncompliance exists and where a client has to invest time and money to regain compliance.
WMN: How would you assess the current situation when it comes to safety compliance of companies across the board? Can major hazards like the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 be avoided in Europe?
Jansen: Unfortunately, the history has proven that despite all the effort you put in and all the man power there are always accidents happening. However, if you look at the accidents themselves, investigations into what happened indicate that the reasons behind these incidents lie in the failure of very simple daily operations, such as transfer of information between staff or very simple on site components, like exit doors, that in the end have a major impact.
With the implementation of the independent verification scheme we are trying to find a very proactive way of removing these and becoming the eyes and ears of our duty holders by not only being in our offices, but also by being present at the scene, on platforms. The ultimate goal is to remove all these small triggers that cause major accidents before an accident happens.
WMN: What can be done to prevent these little things from occurring and causing accidents? Is it education of workforce, training?
Jansen: It starts with developing awareness. We have also started an academy where we not only train our own people, but also people working for offshore oil and gas operators to learn more about what is seen as noncompliance and how to deal with it. We also educate them about the manner in which to eventually manage their assets as a whole. With the major oil and gas companies, we see that our technical staff is constantly being challenged to find not just a safer and less costly way of doing things, but also a more sustainable and less risky place to work at.
WMN: How would you describe the influence of the cost cutting measures in the offshore oil and gas industry on investment into safety? How does this affect the approach of oil and gas majors to safety regulation?
Jansen: The impact of the industry situation is, indeed, everywhere. However, the impact that we see on a macro level total, is that billions of dollars in the offshore upstream oil and gas, especially in the Capex expenditure, are being diminished. Nevertheless, that money will come back into the operations again, probably downstream. In particular, due to reduced margins caused by the lower oil price you will get different sectors where our clients will invest money. However, they still have to invest in mitigating the safety risk, the legislation requires that.
In the end you will see, for instance in the North Sea, much more of assets’ life time extensions and investments in operational expenditures, and this is exactly where our added value comes in.
WMN; What is the next step for BV in implementation of the regulation? Any particular markets being targeted at the moment?
Jansen: The next step is the roll out of the new verification scheme inside Europe, where BV can leverage on the experience we have mainly in Aberdeen. In terms of markets being targeted at the moment, there is Denmark where we have clients that don’t waste time and don’t wait till the new scheme is adopted and implemented locally, but are looking for a proactive company that will help them move further in the next five years.
Hence, we are building new local hubs of experienced people as we need to be close to our clients and create local presence. This means that apart from being present in the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands, we will follow the oil and gas operating companies, because, in the end, the business is where they are.
WMN: Is there a still a long way to go for companies to become fully compliant with the new directive?
Ledoux: In terms of developing the appropriate documentation that is required by the directive, definitely yes. The process is highly demanding when it comes to the documentation necessary for owners, rig operators, etc. However, we cannot say that there the new directive brings too much administration as there is a need to provide confidence into the reliability and accountability of verification schemes.
On the other hand, there is a risk for the client to get a bit lost with so many things now being required from them and this is the reason why the efforts to provide the relevant documentation shall be proportionate to the level of risk.
World Maritime News Staff