In the upstream oil and gas industry, standardisation has long been an effective way to make operations safer and more sustainable. Increasingly, the principle of establishing global standards to all aspects of operations – including purchasing – is helping to tackle the universal problems of escalating project costs and expanding schedules.
Of course, the key word in all of this is ‘global’. Our aim is global standards that can be used locally, worldwide.
A recent IOGP survey revealed that there are over 180 organisations around the world that develop standards or similar reference documents for the oil and gas industry. Major operators often use the output from these organisations as a base and then go on to develop their own company specifications. These reflect their own requirements on top of the standards – often based on specific experiences in particular locations. All of this is well-meant. But good intentions notwithstanding, such an approach has led to less standardisation, bespoke designs, competing standards, or those that duplicate existing guidance. This causes unnecessary complications, confusion and inefficiencies.
And there are further considerations, including issues involving intellectual property and copyrights associated with some standards.
To retain momentum, IOGP devised and now operates a Standards Solution. It involves several work groups and refers each standard back to ISO to get international comments and agreement through the regular ISO balloting process.
Ultimately, we seek to maintain and advance a system in which international, global, regional and industry standards bodies work together for upstream standards that are applicable and effective around the world – all within a legally-compliant process.
This involves continuing liaison with important standards bodies. With API and ISO, for example, we have set up quarterly standards programme review meetings to avoid duplication of work.
Advantages of uniformity
Equally important are IOGP’s efforts to standardise operating companies’ procurement of equipment and packages. This work aims to stop the erosion of value by the development of bespoke components for individual upstream facilities, both offshore and onshore. Instead, through Joint Industry Project 33 – administered by IOGP and supported by the World Economic Forum – we are working to achieve industry-level standardisation to enable efficient procurement that supports delivery of safe, reliable and competitive projects and operations around the world.
The first phase of JIP 33 focused on four equipment specifications for procurement of low voltage switchgear, subsea xmas trees, ball valves and piping materials. These IOGP specifications provide a common supplement to the relevant standards agreed by the participating companies and vetted by the suppliers. Now IOGP is encouraging operators to embed these specifications within their organisations. Many have already done so.
Phase 2 of JIP 33, which kicked off in July 2017, is looking at specifications for up to 10 equipment/package items. These currently include air compressor packages, centrifugal pumps, gate/check valves, heat exchangers, HV switchgear, line pipes for critical services, offshore cranes, pressure vessels and ‘top down’ subsea trees.
It’s early days for JIP 33 Phase 2 and more members will be welcome.
Gordon Ballard is an executive committee member for SPE Offshore Europe 2017 and is moderating the keynote session: It’s all about Us – the human factors behind safety statistics on Wednesday 6th September, 14:30-16:30.