The recently implemented EU Offshore Safety Directive1 is now mandatory and requires identification of major environmental incidents (MEIs) and the associated safety and environmental critical elements (SECEs) 2.
However, to date there has not been a common approach within the industry to determine what SECEs and environmental critical elements (ECEs) are, or for developing their corresponding performance standards. Now the leading technical advisor to the oil and gas industry, DNV GL, has published a new recommended practice (RP) to address this issue.
The DNVGL RP-G104 ‘Identification and management of environmental barriers’ is based on the barrier management concept, which applies to knowledge, communication and management of major accidents. It provides guidelines and recommendations for the processes required to identify MEIs, SECEs and ECEs for offshore installations and operations.
It establishes related performance standards in line with regulations, industry practice for managing safety hazards, and barrier management best practices. The RP also provides guidance to implement assurance and verification processes to demonstrate that the required level of performance of the SECEs and ECEs is being achieved.
Tor Jensen, vice-president and head of department for environment, DNV GL – Oil & Gas, says: "The EU Directive is now mandatory throughout Europe. The industry is looking for help to navigate the directive’s requirements and this will now be facilitated by DNV GL’s new recommended practice.
"This can also be applied in areas outside the EU, such as Norway, the Middle East or Australia, when developing an integrated safety and environmental barrier system to prevent and control major accidents and their environmental impact."
The RP is also applicable to operators that have assets both in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) and in the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS), particularly if they are considering the same approach to SECE and ECE across all their offshore assets.
The RP’s guidelines build on and align with the existing approach used within the management of major accident safety hazards. It seeks to make optimal use of the overlap between safety and environmental studies, and to integrate with existing environmental studies and practice, such as environmental impact assessments, oil spill risk assessment and oil spill response planning to ensure there is no duplication of effort.
Elisabeth Tørstad, CEO of DNV GL – Oil & Gas, says: "Owners and operators are now responsible for ensuring that all suitable measures are taken to protect the environment from major accidents through systematic risk management.
"Our recommended practices are openly accessible to help the industry be prepared for regulatory changes and to have safer, smarter and greener operations."