CONSUB – Safety Critical Valve Inspection

Problem Statement   

CONSUB’s client had identified issues in the effectiveness of valve inspections to identify valve anomalies and capture the data for subsequent integrity assessment.


CONSUB  were requested to undertake an inspection program on a large quantity of safety critical valves on offshore and onshore North Sea facilities.


CONSUB  developed a digital checklist application which uploads the inspection results in real time allowing the specialist valve engineer to check and confirm  the inspection results.


CONSUB trained an inspector to perform the at site inspections supported by an office based specialist valve engineer. This allowed the inspection services to be conducted by only 1 inspector at site and ensured anomalies were correctly identified and reported.

Using the CONSUB digital checklist with automated report production resulted in inspection efficiency improvements.

The combination of ensuring inspection team competence and development of the inspection software platform have improved the process and reduced the costs to the client

realising up to 70% cost reduction to conduct inspections and issue reports.

Total Savings Anticipated

£100,000 estimated.

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CONSUB – ESDV Condition Monitoring

Problem Statement   

Client had identified performance issues with safety critical pipeline valves.


CONSUB undertook review of the safety critical valve operating data to identify root cause for performance issues and to identify solution to maximise safety critical valve availability


A condition monitoring software platform was developed to analyse available SCADA data allowing safety critical valve performance trending to be established.


The development and implementation of the valve condition monitoring software platform allowed CONSUB’s valve specialist to trend the data and identify root cause for the safety critical valve performance. This allowed implementation of a condition based maintenance plan to coincide with planned shutdown.

The development of the condition monitoring platform also resulted in the implementation of a revised spares strategy that resulted in a significant reduction in repair durations for unplanned shutdowns of around 80% with an estimated saving of 360 days over the design life of the facilities.

Total Savings Anticipated 

360 days saved

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Safehouse – Safehouse Habitat applied to LPG Tanker

Problem Statement   

An LPG tanker was in need of urgent repairs to its hull in order to remain within the parameters of its license to operate. Due to the nature of the ship and its cargo, carrying out hot work to repair such damage would normally require the ship’s tanks to be purged of all traces of hydrocarbon gas and the work to be carried out in a dry dock. In addition, the work would have to be carried out in a very restricted space on the inside of the vessel.


Avoidance of the need to purge the ships tanks of all hydrocarbon gas, taking the ship off-course, saving the operator thousands in associated costs and delays.


Safehouse’s Technical Director visited the vessel to identify where would be safe to assemble the habitats and carry out hot work. To ensure the repair work complied with maritime regulations, Safehouse reviewed its procedures and developed a work pack detailing the proposed solutions, including having a Safehouse team on standby to immediately mobilise the equipment. Our solution was to build two habitats; one on the exterior of the hull, and another between the hull and gas storage tank. This allowed for the segregation of the hot work activities from any potential hydrocarbon sources. The flexibility of the SAFEHOUSE habitat combined with the expertise of our technicians allowed us to overcome any obstacles and to be installed easily in restricted areas.


The Panama Canal authorities were initially very reluctant to allow hot work to go ahead within their waters on an LPG tanker that had not been confirmed gas-free. Safehouse liaised closely and contributed to the authorities HAZOP process to satisfy their concerns. When the project was completed on time and without incident, the ship operator and canal authorities were satisfied that their extremely high safety standards had been met.

Total Savings Anticipated

168 man and machine hours saved

£350,000 estimated.

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Nexen – System Scaffold reduces risk of Confined Space Entry (CSE)

Submitted by Nexen Petroleum U.K. Limited


Safety First – The use of System Scaffold resulted in a reduction in manual handling and the duration of personnel working within a confined space.

In total a 66% reduction in man hours was achieved using the System Scaffold.

The excellent team work and collaborative effort between Nexen and Stork resulted in the work scope being completed on time and without incident or accident.

Description of Best Practice

During the Buzzard 2016 turnaround, invasive maintenance was required on the first and second stage production separators.  Part of this activity required internal access to the vessels to erect scaffolding, which involved the hazard of entering and working in a confined space.

The Stork System Scaffold was not only quicker to erect and dismantle, with fewer components, it also required less manual handling and transportation of materials – which was particularly beneficial given the confined area where the worksite was based.

The use of System Scaffold resulted in a reduction in manual handling and the duration of personnel working within a confined space.

To reduce the risk of Confined Space Entry (CSE), System Scaffold was adopted as an alternative type of access.  This type of scaffolding could be erected and dismantled quicker than conventional ‘tube and fitting’ type scaffold.  It meant that there were significantly less components and eliminated the requirement for numerous fitting connections.

Contact: Tracey Miller  

Wood Group- Alternative access solutions

Submitted by Wood Group

Inclement weather, intermittent accessibility and poor control of environment are well recognised factors that negatively affect schedule and drive up costs for planned and unplanned activities. Looking beyond traditionally accepted access solutions, which tend to be inflexible, slow to set up and difficult to move, we have achieved significant cost savings by adopting flexible access solutions.


The most important aspect of access solutions is ensuring the continuous safety of workers. By seeking an optimised approach to each situation we are able to ensure safety, maximise tool time, and assure greater integrity and reliability of delivery by creating a consistent environment. Across the range of access options this can deliver anything from simple gains on worksite efficiencies through to negating a shutdown.

By challenging conventional approaches to access solutions we were able to ensure significant savings on material cost, improved safety and increased tool time.

Description of Best Practice

In deciding upon an access solution Wood Group considers the following aspects;

  • Environment of work area – potential for hydrocarbon release, is a shutdown required?
  • Nature of the work – hot work vs inspection
  • Work at height – can this be avoided?
  • Workface planning
  • Area covered – does the solution need to be flexible?

Case 1: Safezone positive pressure habitats allow hot work and hazardous area operations to take place with fewer isolations and the possibility to avoid an asset shutdown. This system is modular in design and can be modified to accommodate a wide range of works. The system was originally available in the UKCS via one supplier, increasing the likelihood of bottlenecks in deployment and intermittent availability. In 2016 Wood Group purchased 5 systems, with a further 5 currently on order, to ensure that we can deploy the system on our clients’ assets whenever a requirement arises. Including this technology in our in-house suite of services streamlines the delivery and use of the system.

Case 2: In order to assess the integrity of clamped saddle support locations on a gas terminal slug catcher, a specialist vendor required access arrangements and weather protection. A total of 143 pipe supports needed to be inspected over a wide area, meaning that a conventional rolling roof was not suitable. Wood Group considered a range of new solutions to reduce work at height risk, improve productivity, and contain both labour and scaffold hire costs. Ultimately, we selected an aviation industry quality inflatable habitat combined with a rolling scaffold system for this application. Adopting lean access and alternative industry technologies contributed to an 85% saving on the original inspection budget.

Case 3: The strengthening of a congested pipe deck required both a highly controlled environment to ensure the correct bonding of new plates, and the ability to maneuver quickly around changing drilling operations. To overcome the erecting and dismantling of the scaffold we designed a mono-flex sheeted scaffold that can be lifted by the crane and moved into location. This removes the need to carry out multiple erection and dismantling, reducing the risks of carrying out multiple operations on a busy pipe deck and reducing costs.

Case 4: In 2012 we deployed the first remote operated aerial vehicle (ROAV) for offshore use in the UKCS. A typical detailed structural and coating inspection of the drilling derrick would have required the facilities to be taken out of commission for around three weeks. Additionally, to review the condition of the platform under deck would have required considerable under scaffolding and over side work with appropriate supply vessel support. The ROAV was able to carry out the derrick inspection whilst well plug and abandon (P&A) activity continued, avoiding an estimated 3 week shut down and saving around £1,680,000. More importantly, it eliminated the need for four inspectors to carry out the work, which would have required significant use of rope access, thereby virtually eliminating the risk. The use of the ROAV for the under decking review avoided the need for under deck scaffolding and rope access at an estimated cost of £121,000. The ROAV scope of work cost £71,000, providing a saving of £50,000. Finally the use of the ROAV negated the need for over side working and standby vessels for support.

Contact: Philip Oliver 

Performance Improvement People- Cost efficiency through behavioural readiness

Submitted by Performance Improvement People


Outcome: On commencement of project execution there was an immediately high productivity ratio, and better-than-planned productive day.  These efficiencies have allowed for increased scope liquidation and therefore increased value for the same spend.

Learning: We believe this was the first time this approach has been tried within an oil & gas execution environment, and as such some approaches brought greater success than others.

The best value activities appeared to be:

  • Team profiling resulted in objective identification of weak points and the early opportunity to manage them.
  • Scenario-based workshops flushed out areas of misalignment and misunderstanding; meaning gaps could be plugged prior to entering the high cost execution environment.
  • Small, diverse, group workshops allowed a free flow of discussion between representatives of different groups.  This was an unplanned side effect of the original strategy and the relationships made during these sessions have underpinned a great deal of problem solving in execution.
  • Meeting audits gave objective feedback as to how data and decision making flowed through the project.  This gave a very clear identification of bottlenecks.

Description of Best Practice

Challenge: An operator was running a life extension project for a major North Sea asset.  The project team consisted of representatives of a number of different organisations, including Operator, Tier 1 Contractor and the extended supply chain.

Performance Improvement People were asked to address the challenge of bringing together these different organisations into a single, cohesive team to ensure high efficiency and productivity in the execution environment.

Performance Improvement People used various behavioural analysis techniques to measure and understand the behavioural norms present in the combined team.  These norms could then be used as a basis for identifying hot spots and weak points, which in turn provided a practical understanding of inefficiencies in execution.

Many of the tools used are widely available, and primarily used within the context of recruitment, assessment and personal development.  We chose to apply them within the context of project delivery, using the data to develop the project execution model rather than for individual development.
The diagnostic tools included work-related activities such as psychometric analysis, creating and delivering practice scenario discussions, carrying out meeting audits, work-process analysis, team workshops sessions and site-based fabrication maintenance ‘mock-up’ exercises.
The overall impact was to allow the leadership team to truly understand the norms in their business and how they may impact on future work, especially joint project delivery, as well as giving key team members the opportunity to understand the impact of their own behaviours on others around them. In turn this lead to greater efficiency through improved communication, reduction in duplication of work, clearer processes, more effective meetings and reduced overall meeting footprint.

Contact: Morna Ronnie (

ConocoPhillips – Tackling the unique challenges of decommissioning in a mature basin in a cost competitive environment

Submitted by ConocoPhillips


The company’s 2014 plugging and abandonment campaign in the Southern North Sea focused on 15 offshore wells across a 541 day work programme. Thanks to the teams adopting a campaign approach to the tasks in hand, proactively engaging with personnel, working collaboratively with vendors and continually challenging assumptions, it only took 435 days. This resulted in costs being reduced by 35%. The learnings from this campaign are now being shared widely across the industry and the approach continues throughout ConocoPhillips’ ongoing Southern North Sea plugging and abandonment/decommissioning campaign.

Description of Best Practice

Being able to safely and successfully eliminate over 100 days from an offshore workscope in a mature basin might seem optimistic, but this is just what a team from ConocoPhillips did on a complex and challenging well plugging and abandonment campaign in the UK Southern North Sea in 2014. In a time where there is an urgent need for the industry to work co-operatively and innovatively to maximise economic recovery from the UKCS, being able to deliver such tangible results has never been more important. ConocoPhillips’ operations in the area date back over 40 years starting with the Viking field discovery in 1968, followed by first gas production in 1972.

Today, the company operates a complex portfolio of platforms, normally unmanned installations, pipelines and subsea developments in the Southern North Sea, which export production with that from other third-party operators to the Theddlethorpe Gas Terminal in Lincolnshire. “Our objective was to safely simplify our infrastructure in the area to reduce the cost impact of assets that were no longer producing,” says Gerry Cooper, UK Well Operations Manager for ConocoPhillips. “We also wanted to enhance the focus of our UK Integrated Operations team and demonstrate the value of collaboration.”

With these Southern North Sea wells originally being developed in the 1970s, there were a number of challenges to overcome. The team was put together incorporating a wide variety of skill sets including, drilling, completion, intervention, fluids and wellhead specialists to ensure the safest and most cost effective solutions and tools were used in all cases. Due the unknowns with 30-40 year old wells, the team had to continually learn, formulate, apply and reassess mitigation strategies making constant suggestions for improvement throughout.

By remaining as flexible as possible and applying a rigorous approach to Management of Change, every scenario had back-up plans identified up-front which was pivotal to delivering the performance improvements. Gerry Cooper adds: “The success of the project really hinged on close collaboration between onshore and offshore, functional groups within ConocoPhillips and our suppliers. Thanks to this teamwork, we jointly delivered an outstanding business result – re-focusing the right people on efficient implementation, reducing operating costs, and safely achieving our goal at a much lower decommissioning cost than originally estimated.”

Shell – Hand held infra-red scanner for piping and structural replacements

Submitted by Shell


  • Significant increase in speed – replacing previous surveying and engineering process (including hand-offs and waiting periods) with a more integrated and rapid approach.
  • This increase in speed reduces the integrity risk associated with temporary repairs.
  • More efficient use of platform beds (core crew resources)
  • More efficient use of inspection resources by reduced requirement to inspect temporary repairs

Description of Best Practice

We have changed the way we go about surveying and engineering of like-for-lie pipespool and structural replacements. We store an infrared handheld scanner offshore for undertaking surveys and have instructed core crew members in the use of them. Scan data is uploaded and converted to a full fabrication isometric within a few hours of receipt. The isometrics is then passed onto a fabricator for manufacturing.

Contact: Wessel de Haas, Shell

Nexen – Journey to change beliefs to improve water injection rates

Submitted by Nexen


Nexen’s cultural beliefs and the marginal gains campaign soon became integrated into everyday procedures – and soon the results were plain to see.

The water injection campaign helped drive a 40% improvement in water injection rates across within six months of implementation.

Description of Best Practice

Nexen Petroleum UK management team set on journey to evolve Nexen’s performance from a top quartile position to become to a Best-In-Class operator.

Leadership understood that workforce collaboration and two-way communication was crucial in achieving cultural transformation, specifically in influencing a paradigm shift to create new experiences, beliefs and behaviours to deliver top business results and establish a common language which would drive accountability both individually and collectively across the whole business.

A suite of tools were developed to equip employees in implementing the changes but to naturally engrain the new ways of working into everyday tasks. The toolkit consisted of eight cultural beliefs and the deployment of four working tools – focussed recognition, storytelling, feedback and accountability.

One example was recognising the need to improve our water injection performance. Nexen ran a series of multi-discipline engagement workshops to empower employees into changing beliefs and experiences about the importance of water in enhancing production, which helped drive a 40% improvement in water injection rates.

To implement change, establishing a clear purpose and understanding was essential. The company set out clear messaging on why water injection was extremely important to our operations. Nexen created new experiences that led to the implementation of the right processes to make water injection a priority. Water injection is now a top focus offshore and features on the top line in our daily reports.

Nexen was also inspired by the concept of Marginal Gains Theory, created by the British Olympic Cycling Team, which involves breaking down routine work activities to find small efficiencies or enhancements which accumulate into significant benefits and savings.  Nexen’s leaders encouraged onshore and offshore teams to work together on campaign focused on driving improvements and better working practices from everyday tasks.

Contact: Ray Riddoch, Nexen Petroleum U.K. Limited

Shell – Facility Risk Review

Submitted by Shell


Reduced occurrence of high-impact surprise events and their associated integrity and reliability impact.

We have implemented this process across our portfolio in 2014 and have witness a significant reduction in the occurrence of the most significant integrity and reliability related events.


Description of Best Practice

We have implemented a process for more pro-active and holistic risk management of technical risks during the Operate phase of the asset lifecycle. The process rigorously prioritises key risks and leads to higher quality integration of technical knowledge and insight into business decision making. The process lends itself particularly well to late-life assets where prioritisation of resources, as well as pro-active management of high impact risks (integrity and reliability) is particularly relevant.

Key components of the process and the associated infrastructure are:

  • the role of dedicated risk screener in the asset
  • a central database
  • a structured process to bring different discipline input together in an efficient way
  • an approach to engage staff and leaders in the company to  increase awareness, common understanding and skill in risk management
  • an approach to engage staff and leaders in the company to  increase awareness, common understanding and skill in risk management