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Best Safety Practice

14 December 2010

Dr. Jonathan Mark Bunch, Costain Design Safety Consultant, attended a seminar in Oman recently and presented a paper describing the findings of the Buncefield enquiry and Costain’s approach to best practice in safety assessment on existing plant.

The technical seminar, hosted by the Gas Processors Association Gulf Co-operation Chapter, was entitled Process Safety Management in the Gas Processing Industry. Dr. Bunch’s paper described the devastation caused by the explosion and subsequent fire at the Buncefield oil storage depot in Hertfordshire in 2005, and the findings of the enquiry into the incident which has had a profound effect on the way safety risk assessment is carried out in the UK.

The paper went on to describe the approach used by Costain to assess safety risk on existing plant. Taking into account the findings of the Buncefield enquiry and the concerns of industry, the Costain system uses different levels of assessment to quantify the identified risks and address them in appropriate detail. This has the advantage of focussing time and resources on the higher risks, and reduces the time required to carry out the risk assessment while ensuring the safety of the resulting design is robust.

The presentation was well received by delegates at the seminar, which included representatives from a number of oil and gas operating companies from across the Gulf region. The paper presented an opportunity to learn from the experience in the UK, and highlighted the relevance of Costain’s approach to design safety for hydrocarbon facilities in the Middle East.