WELCOME [ Log In Register ] SITE [ Search Page Index Recent Changes ] RSS

Managing Change in Liverpool Bay

Over 1.5 million people, including 22 Members of Parliament, in north-west England and North Wales have a ringside view of the Liverpool Bay oil and gas fields. The asset is operated by Australian multinational BHP Petroleum, in a joint venture partnership with Lasmo and Centrica Resources. With one of the four fields just five miles offshore, activities are very much in the public eye. So far, the Partnership has invested £23 million in measures to make the environmental systems even more robust, and to avoid damage to the environment in the future.

Liverpool Bay and ISRS - Forum 2000(1).bmp

David Walker, vice president of BHP Petroleum

The Liverpool Bay fields are situated close to the tourist mecca of Blackpool and the beaches of North Wales, the Wirral and Lancashire. The crude oil from this asset is waxy, contains 2 per cent H2S and has a strong, unmistakable odour. This combines to give BHP Petroleum challenges in both safety and the environment which are different from most operations on the U.K. Continental Shelf. Geology and geography have conspired to demand the highest standards of health, safety and environmental management.

BHP vice president David Walker and his team know that the slightest slip from these standards can result in oil on beaches, attention from the media, questions from politicians and demands from the public. If one drop of oil gets into the sea, it will be headline news in a matter of hours, he says.

Baseline IERS (International Environmental Rating System) and ISRS (International Safety Rating System) audits conducted by DNV in 1998 set a benchmark for further progress and improvement in the fields safety, health and environmental performance. The BHP asset team grasped this opportunity for positive change, and a challenging improvement programme was developed and initiated. DNV was actively involved in all aspects of this programme, and engineers and consultants from the London, Stockport and Aberdeen offices became regular visitors to the offshore installations, onshore processing plant and BHPs London headquarters.

Measurable Improvements
In December 1999 a repeat of the DNV audits measured the improvements, and both BHP and DNV were delighted with the significant achievements that had been made. Level 5 awards in both the ISRS and IERS were indicators of real progress, and David Walker and his Asset Leadership Team were quick to recognise the efforts of the workforce in accomplishing this successful result.

Relatively minor incidents which have been exacerbated by the fields’ location have resulted in intense scrutiny from the industry regulators, local authorities and tourist boards. Environmental pressure groups have also exerted pressure on local and central government that has increased the attention paid to BHP Petroleum.

We have worked very closely with DNV, explains David Walker. This involves behavioural analyses and assessment, change management, training, environmental consultancy, safety engineering and general safety, health, environment and quality support. DNV has also played an active role in BHPPs redesign and restructuring of the fields’ management and operating systems and structures.

Emergency Response
We have reviewed our accident and incident reports in great depth to be sure that we get to the root causes of the problems, states Walker. We’ve collaborated on joint project teams with DNV to see how to improve our emergency response, and through safety engineering have made sure that we have the correct equipment in place, and that safety-critical elements are fully addressed. By looking at issues including our human factors performance, we are generating procedures that are robust, clear and easy to use. We have also tried to influence the company’s safety and environmental culture and were achieving results. Through measurements carried out using DNVs IERS and ISRS tools, we can show politicians, regulators and stakeholders that were continuing to improve. DNV has also acted as an independent competent body for the Department of Trade and Industry to verify the appropriateness of the company’s safety, health and environmental management systems.

For BHP Petroleum, improved health, safety and environmental performance is the key performance target for this field, which was opened in 1996 and is expected to produce hydrocarbons until 2015.

Communication with Stakeholders
David Walker regards communication with all the company’s stakeholders as one of the basic prerequisites for success. He talks about the three Es education, employment and the environment. A Visitors Centre has been established at our Point of Ayr Terminal in North Wales as a part of the education programme. In the employment sector, new opportunities are providing work for a number of young people under the governments New Deal Scheme. In the environmental sector, the company has restored land in North Wales. BHP organises birdwatching and community awareness activities, and manages a major project which helps restore eroded sand dunes and beaches back to their natural state. BHP provides mini-buses and cars to assist people to learn to drive in an area where the majority are dependent upon road transport. It also arranges road-safety education for children in North Wales, and awards scholarships to young people to study at technical colleges.

We feel were heavily involved as members of a BHP team, states Nick Jackson, the head of DNVs core team. This consists of five employees from DNVs offices in Aberdeen, Stockport and London, who have been assisted by some 30 other staff during the past year.

  • Operated by BHP Petroleum (46.1% interest), in a joint venture partnership with Lasmo (45%) and Centrica Resources (8.9%)
  • Six offshore platforms, plus one storage/loading facility
  • One onshore gas processing terminal at Point of Ayr, North Wales
  • Gas pipeline from Point of Ayr to Connahs Quay Power Station
  • Waxy crude oil containing 2 per cent H2S
  • Over 300km of intra-field pipelines


Date: 15 May 2000
Source: DNV Forum no. 1, 2000