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Research Background

In the past few years there had been a steady increment in the usage of the risk assessment in the offshore production facilities. This is especially after the Piper Alpha disaster in 1988 and many other major accidents that killed many lives. Operators are showing an increasing awareness by reviewing the safety of their existing topside production facilities. The Piper Alpha accident provided adverse confirmation that the prediction of risk analyses regarding on the major accidents were certainly prudent. Quantitative Risk Assessment (QRA) is very useful in order to reduce the risks especially on the hydrocarbon releases from offshore topsides facilities. (Harmony, 1998) The accidents have cause major explosion and followed by some others minor explosion that releases huge amount of the hydrocarbon such as gas, liquid and 2-phase liquid. According to the investigation report that had been made after the accident, the main reason that causes the accident is the handover work made by two different shift personnel. Communication problem is one of the reasons of the tragedy. Initially the platform just produced crude oil and a few years after that natural gas also been produced. During the installation of the gas conversion equipment, the fire walls were not upgraded to the blast wall that causes a severe explosion throughout the disaster. Moreover the pumping operation of oil and gas was continued even though the fire start

to spread on the platform due to lack of professed authority that just witness the burning of the Piper. (Taylor, Wallace, & Ward, 1991) It was started from the two condensate injection pump which are A and B. The day shift engineer forgets to inform the condition of pump A to the night shift engineer in which the pressure valve was removed for recalibration and recertification. There are about 106 recommendation has made for the future safety regimes offshore by the Cullen Report. All of the recommendation had been accepted and implemented by the offshore operators later then. (Simon, 2012a) Petrobras Enchova Central Platform was listed in the major offshore accidents. This platform also listed as one of the worst and notable blowouts in the history of offshore oil platform. It is located in the Enchova Field, Brazil and operated by Petrobras. Two major incidents recorded in this field which was occurred on 16 August 1984 and 24 April 1988. The first accidents caused by blowout followed by explosion and fire. Most of the personnel were evacuated safely by chopper and lifeboat. Unfortunately 42 workers died during the evacuation processed. The main reason that killed many lives during evacuation is because the failure of lowering mechanism of a lifeboat. The lifeboat was suspended and eventually fell 10-20m to the sea which killed 36 personnel. The other six workers were killed when they jumped from the platform to the sea at 30-40m height. (Simon, 2012b) The second accident occurred on 24 April 1988 which is four years later during the workover operations on the platform. One of the well that operated by the platform blew out and finally ignited that resulted in the destruction of the platform. Petrobras decided to drill two relief wells in 30 days time and eventually succeed in controlling the blowout (Maduro & Reynolds, 1989). The workover well was performed in order to convert oil well to gas well. Then the blowout occurred during that converting process. The fire resulted from gas ignition last for 31 days. There was no loss of life recorded because the floating living quarters were separated from the platform during the blowout. The operator incurred a total loss because the extensive damage to the topside structure (Simon, 2012b).

Ekofisk Bravo Platform is another type of platform that was listed in the top five worst blowout accidents in the oil and gas industry in which the volume of hydrocarbon released is about 202,381 barrels. This platform is operated by Philips Petroleum Company located at Ekofisk field in Norwegian continental shelf. The event of blowout was recorded on 22 April 1977, a few years after the discovery of this field in 1969. It was declared that the blowout cause the biggest oil spill in the North Sea. The blowout occurred during the workover of the production well. It was started when the production tubing was pulled out at 10000 feet depth. Then the blowout preventer (BOP) is not yet installed after removing Christmas tree prior to the production tubing pulling process. The downhole safety valve was malfunctioned because of improperly installed that cause well kick then resulted in well blowout that release large amount of hydrocarbon to the environment. There was no loss of life recorded as the evacuation job carried properly. Initially the total release calculated was 202,381 bbls by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate. Then the oil was evaporated up to 40% of the initial release and a total spill estimated is lower than the initial amount. It was reported that there was no significant effect to the environment. The investigation to determine the root cause of the accident had been carried out. They found that the main reason of the blowout was caused by human errors. The human errors include inappropriate planning and well control, misjudgment on the job scope difficulty for instance ignores the proper installation documentation and equipment identification (Simon, 2012c). Bekok C platform that is operated by PETRONAS Carigali Sdn. Bhd. is one of the listed platform accidents in Malaysia that cause a severe injury to the workers. This platform is located 200km from the coast of Peninsular Malaysia. The major factor of the tragedy is because of the gas leaked that cause fire on the platform. Basically the platform went through scheduled shutdown in order to plan maintenance activities during the accident (Bernama, 2010).

There were about 108 personnel on the platform at that moment of incident and six of them were injured because of the fire. The fire just started after midnight and brought under control by the emergency response teams (ERT). The injured personnel were the one that on duty at that time and in the process to complete their shift. The six injured personnel suffered several burns on parts of their body including the face. The fire might be resulted from sparks that produced from one of the maintenance valves. The remaining 102 workers have been evacuated safely to the nearby platform (Chris, 2010). Another offshore accident in Malaysia is Tukau B platform located in Miris offshore. This platform is operated by PETRONAS Carigali Sdn Bhd which is Malaysias National Oil Company. The fire occurred on 11 June 2012 which is the latest accident at an oil and gas facility recorded on offshore platform. It was reported that 16 workers on the platform at that time of fire. Five of the personnel which are two PETRONAS employee and other three are contractor staff were suffered first and second degree burn. There was no loss of life reported as other remaining workers were evacuated safely to the nearby platform, Tukau A living quarters. (Mohamad Abdullah, 2012) The fire resulted from the explosion at Tukau B oil drilling platform started to spread on the structure at 9.20am at the compressor skid. Fortunately they managed to put the fire under control within an hour that prevents the fire to spread over the platform. The personnel were doing some maintenance works on the platform at the time of fire. The human errors could be the reason of the explosion that cause fire and injured some of the workers. Most of the accidents occur were mainly cause by the engineering workers that do not have good understanding on the safety elements. Misjudgment on the job difficulty has been normal situation on the event of fire and explosion. Improper use of standard operating procedure for equipment always becomes major factor in platform accident. This is mainly occurring during the maintenance works that involve the operator and contractor staffs (Luin, 2012).

The most recent incident that involves oil and gas industry in Malaysia is the fire and explosion of the oil tanker named Bunga Alpinia own by Malaysian International Shipping Company, MISC which occurred at 26 July 2012. This event of fire and explosion take place at Rancha-Rancha industrial zone, Pulau Enoe near Labuan. It was reported that the oil tanker was loading six tons of methanol at the PETRONAS Chemicals Methanol Sdn Bhd jetty when a small fire ignited during a thunderstorm. The fire started at 2.30am and resulted in at least three major explosions that shake the Labuan Island. Bunga Alpinia has 29 crews on board consisting 23 Malaysians and six Filipinos. The accident was killed five workers; four of them were Malaysian and one Filipino as mentioned by MISC Company which is a subsidiary of PETRONAS. Another 24 workers were evacuated safely to onshore (Almeida, 2012). The fire and explosion just occurred nearby the PETRONAS Chemical Methanol plant that arise another concern if the flames from the tanker ignite the methanol silo. The effect might be severe which can cause enormous destruction to the surrounding area.


Problem Statement

A hydrocarbon can potentially release to atmosphere due to leakage from equipment, flanges, valves, pipe works and etc. Each of this equipment has their own release frequency. For Quantitative Risk Assessment (QRA) study, the release frequency of each Isolatable Section needs to be calculated. The QRA is employed in order to size hazards and advantages gained from their concession. The QRA particularly calculates the overall risk and potential loss of life and the average individual risk of fatality. In order to determine the release frequency the installation type and location are the important parameter that should be considered.



The overall objective of these studies is to calculate the hydrocarbon release frequency for each isolatable section of offshore production facilities. In order to determine the release frequency, the isolatable section of the topsides production facilities needs to be identified at the early period of the research. The quantity of each of the process equipment needs to be determined in order to get the release frequency. The other objective is to utilize the raw and modify data of release frequencies from the risk assessment data directory (OGP Publications) in order to classify the release criteria by using the inventory released.


Scope of the Research

A complete offshore production facility will be divided into several sections in QRA study. The sections are known as Isolatable Section. The Isolatable Section consists of different type and sizes of equipment, flanges, valves, pipe works and etc. The research will identify method to calculate the release frequency of a given Isolatable Section of Offshore Production Facilities. All of the possible process equipments with various sizes are listed down to make the parts count easier. There are three types of release which are full releases, limited releases and zero pressure releases but in these studies full releases type will be used in order to determine the release frequency for each isolatable section. The parts count of process equipments with its specific sizes can be done by using the data that is provided in the Process and Instrumentation Diagram P&ID. Other than that, the volume of equipment on the topsides of offshore facilities also needs to be calculated by using the volume equation. Process Flow Diagram (PFD) is used in order to determine the volume of each of the process equipment.


Almeida, R. (2012, 26 July 2012). Chemical Tanker Explodes Off Malaysia, Fire Now Threatens Nearby Methanol Silo [UPDATED] Retrieved 4 November 2012, 2012, from Bernama. (2010, 14 December 2010). Six Petronas Carigali workers injured in platform fire, The Malaysian Insider. Retrieved from Chris. (2010). Offshote Tragedy:Fire at Bekok C platform. Retrieved from Harmony, K. (1998). Facility Risk Assessment and Risk Management in Offshore Oil & Gas Industry. Paper presented at the SPE Asia Pacific Conference on Integrated Modelling for Asset Management, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Code=SPE Luin, P. D. J. C. C. (2012). Yet Again Another Engineering Accident? Press Statement. Internet: The Institution of Engineers, Malaysia. Maduro, W. P., & Reynolds, J. (1989). Enchova Blowout: Record Relief Time. Paper presented at the SPE/IADC Drilling Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana. Code=SPE Mohamad Abdullah, M. F. a. P. K. (2012, 12 June 2012). Oil Platform Blast Scare, Borneo Post Online. Retrieved from Simon. (2012a). Oil Rig Disasters. Piper Alpha Retrieved 2 November 2012, 2012, from Simon. (2012b). Oil Rig Disasters. Enchova Central Retrieved 3 November 2012, 2012, from Simon. (2012c). Oil Rig Disasters. Ekofisk Bravo Platform Retrieved 4 November 2012, 2012, from Taylor, B. G. S., Wallace, I. G., & Ward, A. (1991). The Response to Piper Alpha: Recent Offshore Safety Developments in the U.K. Paper presented at the Offshore Technology Conference, Houston, Texas.


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