Work related British independent watchdog, Health and Safety Executive (HSE), has published an interim report of its inspection programme on the management of ageing / life extension of offshore infrastructure.

The report highlights the progress made by HSE so far in its ongoing inspection programme, presenting its initial findings on how duty holders manage asset ageing and the extended use of installations past their original anticipated operational life.

The Key Programme 4, which was launched by HSE’s offshore division (OSD), will run until December 2013.

KP4 aims to improve the management of the inevitable consequences occured through ageing of UK offshore installations.

Under the inspection programme, HSE has looked at several installations including steel jackets, concrete jackets, floating production storage and offloading vessels (FPSOs) and semi-submersibles.

"KP4 aims to improve the management of the inevitable consequences occured through ageing of UK offshore installations."

The interim report of the programme also highlights a number of positive findings, with regards to good practice identified during inspections.

According to the report, 18 hydrocarbon production duty holders and three drilling operators, representing about 65% of the offshore industry, have had onshore and offshore KP4 inspections.

Welcoming the publication of the report, Oil and Gas UK health and safety policy manager Bob Lauder said: "We’re pleased to see highlighted the fact that duty holders are taking ageing and life extension very seriously, with a strong recognition among senior managers of the importance of these issues."

"Mature assets are not necessarily less safe – they’re just older. With the right management approach, ageing infrastructure can be maintained to be operated safely and effectively well beyond its originally conceived service life," Lauder added.

The HSE report also identified a range of issues requiring improvement across the industry, which include the need to ensure long-term plans to manage the effects of equipment degradation in future.

In early 2011, the oil and gas industry, in collaboration with HSE, started a programme to direct additional attention and effort to asset ageing and life extension.

The trade association has also produced industry guidance and formed an industry steering group, which includes HSE managers and the topic experts from a cross-section of the industry.

"Oil and Gas UK will publish more technical guidance around specific hardware aspects of ageing and life extension, while improving workforce engagement at every level is one of Step Change in Safety’s key focus areas, " Lauder said.