An industry body will warn there is “much more to be done” to prevent major leaks in the North Sea at an Aberdeen conference later.
More than 300 people are expected to attend the inaugural HSE Conference from Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) at the P&J Live today.
The main focus will be on preventing hydrocarbon releases (HCRs) off the UK, along with control of major accident hazards, reducing emissions and addressing workers’ mental health.
A report produced last month by the trade body found that the number of “major” HCRs – the most serious type of leak – had been plateauing at two or three per year, but four were recorded in 2018.
The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has indicated that at least one more release is likely to be assigned to the major category, once classified.
Widening the analysis to look at all types of HCR, OGUK said if the current trajectory continues this year and next, the “three-year-moving average” will increase for the first time in a more than decade.
The number of reportable incidents offshore UK increased by 12% last year to 289, with HCRs comprising the single largest category, at 37%.
OGUK chief executive Deirdre Michie will address the conference, highlighting the industry’s new Offshore Process Safety Leadership Principles to prevent major accidents.
She is expected to say: “Our 2019 Health and Safety Report published last week outlined areas where we must continue to drive action and, while there are ongoing improvements in aviation safety, there is much more to be done to reduce major hydrocarbon releases.
“The downward trend in HCRs shown in a three-year moving average plateaued in 2018 – if the rate continues on the current trajectory this year there will be an increase which would be the first in a decade.
“It’s a badge we don’t want, and one which we are working hard to avoid. To address this, alongside our members, the regulator, Step Change in Safety and the MER Asset Integrity Task Group, we have developed a robust release prevention plan, endorsing principles in process safety leadership.
“We should also remind ourselves that the report’s findings are not just numbers on a page – they are about our colleagues, friends and family.
“This is also why I am really pleased that OGUK is working across industry to improve understanding of mental health, among other factors.”
Martin Temple, chairman of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will also address the event, while other speakers will include Ray Riddoch, managing director UK and SVP Europe and Africa at CNOOC International, and Gretchen Haskins, CEO of HeliOffshore.
Delegates will also hear a range of organisations including Opred, Sepa, and Step Change in Safety.