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Oil, Gas and Chemical Facility Recovery and Startup Support Following Flood Disaster

By David Montague, Senior Vice President, Safety, Risk and Compliance; and Steve Arendt, Vice President, Global Oil, Gas and Chemical at ABS Group

Human Factors for Bow Ties Risk Assessment

In the aftermath of natural disasters such as the recent hurricane and subsequent floods affecting the Gulf
Coast Region, it is important to be extra vigilant in adhering to process safety principles when starting up oil,
gas and chemical facility systems.

To help ensure a safe and efficient return to normal operations, and using many of the lessons gained in disaster management and process safety management since 2005 from Hurricane Katrina, ABS Group provides a broad range of natural hazards recovery support services – from risk/damage assessment to onsite staff augmentation. Should an incident occur, we also provide 24/7 incident investigation and root cause analysis support.

Below are three (3) key technical and reliability services that are important to consider during this critical phase of recovery/pre-startup operations.

1. Mini-Hazard/Operational Readiness Reviews

Hazard and operational readiness reviews of critical process and support systems focus on identifying unique issues and hazards from potential water and/or wind damage. These reviews can identify site-specific potential hazards and address topics such as:

  • Floodwater leakage into equipment
  • Foundation washout/damage
  • Drainage obstruction/washout
  • Insulation damage/water intrusion
  • Equipment/piping displacement or impact damage
  • Electrical grounding integrity
  • Building damage/integrity
  • Utilities damage, including backup systems/batteries/etc.
  • Safety system damage/integrity
  • Electrical/instrumentation/control system water intrusion/damage

2. Pre-Startup Review (PSSR) Checklists

In addition to your company's normal pre-startup review (PSSR) checklists, some additional topics/questions should focus on verifying the integrity of plant equipment and support/utility systems based on potential water and/or wind damage that may have occurred during and after a natural disaster. These questions/topics incorporate, as applicable, items from (1) industry-specific checklists, (2) "what-if" brainstorming of pertinent plant-specific issues/systems, (3) the PSSR checklists included in Guidelines for Pre-Startup Safety Reviews (CCPS, 2007) and (4) a number of other detailed PSSR checklists that ABS Group either has developed or has access to related to specific equipment and systems.

PSSR checklists help confirm:

  • Repaired equipment/systems are in accordance with design specifications
  • Safety, operating, maintenance and emergency procedures (especially focused on startup) are in place and adequate
  • Recommendations from any mini-hazard analyses or readiness reviews have been resolved or implemented before startup
  • Modifications (if any) since the shutdown have been reviewed under management of change (MOC) program, and any recommendations from those reviews have been resolved
  • Appropriate training regarding modifications/repairs has been completed
  • Quality assurance/quality control documents and records of inspections have been performed
  • Additional information pertinent to the startup and operation of the idle system is verified
  • Organizational change reviews occur while the degraded process safety support infrastructure conditions exist

3. Staff Augmentation 

Highly experienced personnel may be needed to provide extra staffing/temporary resources that can be required during pre-startup recovery and normal startup operations. Such personnel can provide a wide range of onsite services (including either short-term or long-term support) to help your facility achieve various time-critical tasks to safely and expeditiously return to normal operations, including:

  • Assisting with verifications, inspections, walk-downs, documentation, tracking, completing and/or identifying gaps/making recommendations related to MOC activities or hazard reviews
  • Assisting in verifying and/or updating procedures and/or related training for safe startup
  • Providing mechanical integrity/fitness for purpose inspections/testing
  • Assisting with other MOC and/or pre-startup safety review activities as necessary
  • Providing damage assessments and other similar process safety-related tasks/advice as requested, including for insurance filings

With more than 30 years of on-site experience in risk assessment and mitigation analyses for all facility types, ABS Group works closely with companies to understand not only their operations, but their capabilities to respond to damaging natural hazard events. Learn more about our Natural Hazards Risk Management services, or download our Facility Startup and Readiness Support Factsheet.

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