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Hazards on an Offshore Platform: A Review

1Rahul Wadhwani*, 2Vimal Kumar, 3Pankaj Pratap Singh

1,2Department of Chemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, Uttarakhand-247667

3Department of Civil Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, Uttarakhand-247667

Email Id:,,

Phone no.: 21332-285694


Todays an offshore platform costs billions of dollar to prepare and operate which is one of
the costly affairs in the upstream oil sector. As the whole process has to deal with flammable
fluids which are very risky and a small hazard in this can cause a big hazard to the industry
in terms of money, human life, etc. This requires a detailed study of the possible hazards
exists on the offshore platform during the designing phase of them. In this paper an attempt
is made to review the possible hazards exists on an offshore platforms and also suggested the
safeguards to take proper action to minimize them. The HAZID technique which is used to
identify the possible existing hazards is discussed.

Keywords: Offshore platform, HAZID, QRA, oil companies.


Since 1950s, chemical process safety is demanding advanced technology to mitigate the risks.
On the consequences of these risks, today safety is also become an important factor in
production. Now, it has developed into a scientific discipline that includes many highly
technical and complex theories and practices. Process safety emphasizes the use of
appropriate technological tools to provide information for making safety decisions with
respect to plant design and operation. Chemical process safety is referred with the help of
these Safety, hazard, and risk terms. Their definitions follow:

Safety or loss prevention is the prevention of accidents by the use of appropriate

technologies to identify the hazards of a chemical plant and to eliminate them before an
accident occurs.

A hazard is anything with the potential for producing an accident.

Risk = [probability (or frequency) of a hazard resulting in an accident] x [consequence of the


An oil field, especially offshore field, is by its nature very dangerous highly flammable fluids
under high pressure are being handled by large complex equipment in a hostile environment.
If anything went wrong there is a very high probability of losses in terms of money, death,
reputation, environment, etc. There is billions of dollars invested in the production of oil and
gas as reservoir, oil platform, wells, equipment, etc.

To protect this great investment of life and property, safety system have been developed and
incorporated to reduce the chances of mishap occurring phenomenon and minimize its effect.

Previous work:

*Corresponding author
Previous work done by Harstad has emphasized safety as an integral part of the various
stages of plant (platform) design. He has given several examples of this approach; however,
no systematic methodology or guidelines were proposed to conduct such integrated design
[1]. The work done by Medonos has put forward a methodology for integrated safety
engineering, which incorporates HAZOP and other risk assessment techniques in safety
assessment and development of an effective safety management [2]. But, Faisal I. Khan, Paul
R. Amyotte effort to present a detailed picture of the potential for inherent safety
considerations in offshore oil and gas activities [3]. While Henry Orbz emphasized his work
on identifying the various possible hazards exists in chemical industry and categorize them
in various level of severity [4].

Also Mamoun Naciri, Single Buoy Moorings Inc. and Leen Poldervaart, Single Buoy Moorings
Inc. carried out their work on modeling of LNG terminals and emphasized their design work
on the HAZID conclusion [5]. While, Kiho Moon, Seok-Ryong Song, Jorge Ballesio, Gary
Fitzgerald, Gregory Knight worked to identify potential gas release scenarios by conducting a
HAZID that focused on the novel features of the gas turbine propulsion system [6]. Also,
F.Faber, A.E.J.Bliault, L.R.Resweber P.S.Jones, summarises Shell's ongoing technology
developments aimed at practical, safe and economic floating production systems to deliver
oil/condensate and LNG from the same unit [7].

In this paper an attempt is made to review the possible hazards, which exists on an offshore
platform. This study also suggested the possible safeguards to adopt proper action for
minimizing relevant threats. Finally, HAZID study developed a HAZID worksheet, which helps
to identify major hazards on possible causes as well as its consequences with possible

Risk Analysis and Management

Risk analysis is used for the assessment of the hazards in the association of process plant
and their storage installations. It can be assess by solving three questions.

- What can go wrong?

- What are the effects and consequences?

- How often will it happen?

The first and basic step of hazard identification (the first question) is purely qualitative and
is often called a safety study. Such a study may reveal aspects of the plant or installation
which require more consideration. It is then necessary to answer the next two questions in
order to complete the risk analysis. The results of the analysis are used for judgment about
the acceptability of the risk and for decision making. Qualitative answers are often given to
the second and third questions. However, recent developments have involved the application
of quantitative techniques for obtaining answers to these two questions. The use of these
techniques is termed as quantitative risk analysis (QRA). The whole exercise may be called
risk assessment.

In earlier years, many companies did not use quantitative techniques after the identification
stage. However, decisions were made and actions taken to control specific hazards
considering (qualitatively) probabilities and consequences. In a sense this is an elementary
form of risk analysis, but at a less sophisticated level than assessments involving quantitative
consideration of probabilities and consequences. However, over the years, the use of in-depth
risk assessment ranging from hazard identification to computation of individual and societal
risk has increased. Now the question arises related to abrupt behavior in the safety of an
offshore platform, which are follows as:
An act of God (hurricane, earthquake)

The failure of surface control or other equipment


Human error

A fire/explosion which causes failure of surface control

Lack of proper safety equipment

Collisions such as between a boat and wellhead

Nothing is completely safe in this world. No one will do everything ideal and every piece of
equipment will fail eventually one day. So the safety system must be built and operated to
reduce the hazards when failure occurs. Offshore oil and gas production also involves
traditional hazards with the potential of severe occupational accidents. There are risks of
dropped objects in heavy lifting and materials handling in connection with drilling,
maintenance and transportation of consumables. Operators work at height or between heavy
mobile objects in various drilling, inspection and maintenance operations. Adverse weather
conditions may increase the probability of serious accidents further.


The Hazard Identification (HAZID) study is a tool for hazard identification, which is used early
in a project as soon as process flow diagrams, draft heat and mass balances, and plot layouts
are available. Existing site infrastructure, weather, and geotechnical data are also required,
these being a source of external hazards. The method is a designenabling tool, acting to help
organize the HSE deliverables in a project. The structured brainstorming technique typically
involves designer and client personnel engineering disciplines, project management,
commissioning and operations. The main major findings and hazard ratings help to deliver
HSE compliance, and form part of the project Risk Register required by many licensing

Key benefits of HAZID study:

A wellorganized HAZID study activity will deliver a good identification of hazards and
safeguards at an early stage in the design of a facility. The study output helps to ensure that:

Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) hazards are revealed at an early stage in the
project, before significant costs have been incurred

Hazards are recorded and action are taken so that they can be avoided, mitigated or
highlighted during design

Action responses are auditable by Management and Legislative Inspectorates

Design or Construction delays and budget overruns are avoided

Fewer hazards remain unrevealed at commissioning and operation of plant

HAZID Worksheet:
This worksheet is prepared for possible hazards on an offshore platform. This study is
proposing for aforesaid context, with the help of relevance literature [8]-[13]. In this HAZID
worksheet, a detailed study is done by proposing possible threats, and their causes and
consequences. It helps to create possible safeguards for relevant threats.

Threats and concern Causes Consequences Safeguards

Accidental release Dropped object Damage to Fixed/portable H2S
from the process pipe/equipment, detectors
equipment rupture of pipe Emergency
releasing H2S/Fire Shutdown/Fire
hazard, Shutdown (ESD/FSD)
environmental system
impacts Certified crane
Foam hose
Material handling
Platted main deck
Deluge system
Inspection and
certification procedure
for crane operation
Breathing apparatus
Material/ Fire hazard, H2S Fixed/portable H2S
mechanical failure release, detectors
of valve environmental ESD/FSD system
impacts Breathing apparatus
Periodically inspection
and maintenance
Hydro & leak test
before starting up
Platted cellar deck
Deluge system
Proper piping and
Corrosion Fire hazard, H2S ESD/FSD system
release, Regular inspection
environmental Proper piping and
impacts fitting
Corrosion allowance
Design error Fire hazard, H2S Proper inspection at
release, startup
environmental Quality system in place
Human error Fire hazard, H2S Safe operating
release, conditions
environmental Skilled operators
impacts ESD/FSD system
Gas detection system
Safety poster at
various location to
impart the knowledge
of safety during work
Safety interlocks
Proper operation as per
vendor manual
Leakage from the Fire hazard, H2S ESD/FSD system
instrument release, Gas detection system
environmental Breathing apparatus
Combustible Insufficient purge Potential fire, Purging procedure
atmosphere in explosion
process equipment
prior to start-up
Chemical leakage Material failure Equipment ESD/FSD system
damage/ health Proper fitting and
problem piping
Eye wash bottles
First aid box
Dropped object Equipment First aid box
damage/ health Certified crane
problem operator
Hydrogen formation Traces of H2 Explosion Natural ventilation
in the battery room possibility H2 detectors
Explosion proof
equipments and
electrical lines
Fire extinguisher
Riser pipeline External impact Fire hazard, Riser are internal to
releases environmental jacket structure
impact, release of ESD/ FSD and Gas
toxics (H2S) detection system
Navigation lanterns
Breathing apparatus
Corrosion Fire hazard, Corrosion allowances
environmental Pipeline specification
impact, release of Sacrificial anode
toxics (H2S) Painting
Concrete coating
Material Failure Fire hazard, ESD/FSD and Gas
environmental detection system
impact, release of Pipeline specification
toxics (H2S) Pipeline design criteria
Well blowout Loss of well Fire hazard, BOP during well
control environmental intervention/ drilling
impact, release of operation with SSV
toxics (H2S) and SSSV during
normal operation
Adequate space
provided on the deck
for modular rig
operation and other
associated equipment
External impact Fire hazard, SSSV fail close
impact, release of
Marine Growth Improper/Failure Damage to coating Marine growth
of coating causing corrosion preventer
and ultimately Proper coating
weakening the
Design of the structure
by keeping
consideration of
marine growth load
Fatigue Potential failure to Design criteria include
joints and structure fatigue analysis
Cyclic loading on Regular inspection
structure due to
Proper welding of joints
wind and waves
Helicopter Pilot error Crash landing on Trained pilot
helideck potentially Safety net
impact on the
Proper designing of
Extreme weather Crash landing on Weather restriction on
helideck potentially helicopter operation
impact on the Helicopter rescue kit
structure Safety net
Ship collision Drift off/ drive off Impact to structure Barge bumper on the
boat landing side
designed to handle the
impact as per
structural design
Boat landing on the
downwind side of the
Loss of visibility Impact to structure Navigation lights
due to fog,
extreme weather, Location Coordinate of

etc the platforms are

present on the marine
Extreme wind/ high Storm / cyclones Impact to structure Proper platform
tide , drop objects designing from past
100+ years weather
Weather limitation on
crane operations
Lightning Storm Fire at the platform ESD/FSD system
Flame arrestors
Earthquakes Natural calamity Impact to structure Structure is designed
with severe other as per seismic zone
damages norms
This study shows a significant step towards hazard identification on an offshore platform. It
also incorporates all the possible existing hazard identification systems, which are indeed of
changes to make flexible this hazard system. A schema is proposed to resolve most of the
risks and an assessment process is quite useful to solve the analyzed risks. In this proposed
study, some specific threats are identified such as Combustible atmosphere in process
equipment prior to start-up, Riser pipeline releases and well blowout, which are highly
sensitive to occur. Therefore, the proper safeguards are taken into consideration to reduce
these relevant threats.


[1] Harstad, E., Safety as an integrated part of platform design, In Proceeding of 1st
International Conference on Health, Safety and Environment, Hague, Netherlands (1991).

[2] Medonos, S., Use of advanced methods in integrated safety engineering, Offshore
Mechanics and Arctic Engineering (OMAE) Conference, Houston, TX, (1994).

[3] Faisal I. Khan, Paul R. Amyotte, Inherent safety in offshore oil and gas activities: a review
of the present status and future directions, Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process
Industries, Vol. 15 No.4, pp.279-89 (2002).

[4] H. Ozog, Hazard identification, analysis and control; Chemical Engineering (New York),
Volume 92 (18), p. 161 (1985)

[5] Mamoun Naciri, Single Buoy Moorings Inc. and Leen Poldervaart, Single Buoy Moorings
Inc., Design Aspects of SPM LNG Terminals in Shallow Water Offshore Technology
Conference, Houston, Texas, 3 May-6 May 2004, ISBN 978-1-55563-251-9

[6] Kiho Moon, Seok-Ryong Song, Jorge Ballesio, Gary Fitzgerald, Gregory Knight, Fire risk
assessment of gas turbine propulsion system for LNG carriers Journal of Loss Prevention in
the Process Industries, Volume 22, Issue 6, November 2009, Pages 908914

[7] F.Faber, A.E.J.Bliault, L.R.Resweber P.S.Jones, Floating LNG Solutions from the
Drawing Board to Reality, Offshore Technology Conference, Houston, Texas, 6 May-9 May
2002, ISBN 978-1-55563-249-6.

[8] Sinnott, R. K., Safety and loss prevention, in Chemical Engineering (by J. M. Coulson and
J. F. Richardson) (1983)

[9] Kavianian, H. R., Rao, J. K. and Brown, G. V., Application of Hazard Evaluation
Techniques to the Design of Potentially Hazardous Industrial Chemical Processes. (Div. of
Training and Manpower Devel., Nat Inst. Occup Safety and Health, Cincinnati, OH). (1992)

[10] McCoy, S. A., Wakeman, S. J., Larkin, F. D., Chung, P. W. H., Rushton, A. G. and Lees,
F. P., HAZID, a computer aid for hazard identification: 2. Unit model system, Trans IChemE,
Part B, Proc Safe Env Prot, 77(B6): 328334.

[11] Rushton, A. G., Quality Assurance of Hazard and Operability Study Performance in the
Context of Offshore Safety. Report to HSE, Offshore Division1995,

[12] G.L. Wells, C.J. Seagrave, R.N.C. Whiteway; Flowsheeting for Safety, IChemE, London

[13] H.G. Lawley; Operability studies and hazard analysis; Loss Prevention, vol.8 AIChE,
New York, pp. 105. (1974)