The module learning outcomes)1-4) are mapped to the following assessment criteria
1. Assess the business case for a project.
2. Recommend a strategy for reduction of uncertainities and the management of associated risk.
3. Recommend a suitable structure and process for the monitoring and control of a project.
4. Identify and apply appropriate planning and management tools for the project.
5. Formulate a strategy for the implementation of change.
The source of fire is attributed to a flammable hydrocarbon cloud that leaked from the pump. The platform was at the hub of a network of platforms interconnected by oil and gas pipelines. The series of explosion took place on the platform and the intense fire weakened the rescue efforts either by chopper or by ships. It was calculated that the rate of burning of oil was equivalent to total UK oil consumption rate.
No organized effort was made to save the people working at the rig even after it became apparent that the conditions in the module were becoming hazardous. Crew waited for the instructions that never came and almost 81 percent of personnel died due to smoke inhalation. Those who survived were due to their own initiatives, as they jumped from the rig and found their way to the shore.
The investigation of the incident revealed few of the key issues that impacted the situation. They are:
It was found that two separate work permits were passed for the maintenance of condensate pump, one was for repairing the pump and the other was to test the RV. RV was not complete even after working overtime, and the end of the day the craft supervisor terminated the permit for the next day. The craft supervisor, after suspending the permit, returned it to the control room without even informing about the job that was not done yet.
Also, the permit to work was not implemented as per the process. And lot of lackluster could be found in the work behavior of supervisor as he never took the set procedures seriously and this led to omissions (such as signatures and gas test results) which were common, no operations representatives ever inspected the jobsite before suspension of the permit, and craft supervisors used to place the work permit in the control room’s desk instead of handing it personally to concerned staff which was against the procedure.
The management, also, never reviewed the operation of the system and due to the absence of any information from lead safety operator (as he was also not monitoring the PTW regularly) about the issues, management use to assume that everything is going good. Another reason for the disaster was changing the automatic mode of diesel powered fire pumps to manual, as after any incident, the personnel had to reach the pumps to start them. And due to the extreme condition on the day of explosion, personnel were prevented by fire to reach the pump, which became one of the reasons to it. If the firewater had been reachable or it would have been on the automatic mode, then effect of the disaster could have been reduced. The distribution piping for water was also not sufficiently structured and sprinkler heads were filled with unknown pluggage that prevented adequate water flow. A test in May 1988 found out that almost 50 percent of the sprinkler heads were plugged due to dust and various other reasons.
A study confirmed that the steel structure of Piper Alpha was not fireproof and even 10-15 minutes of pressurized fired could melt those down. Also, one of the investigation showed that the training provided to the personnel was not adequate, and it was mostly cursor. Mostly the training were waived for the personnel who were even away from the platform for more than six months or worked off-shore at some other places other than Piper Alpha, which was against the procedure. After the incident, many of the survivors told that they were never given proper training even about the life rafts and the way to use them.
There was not the presence of weekly evacuation drills and so there was not a question of why no full-scale shutdown drill was conducted. Even the platform managers were not given enough training to handle such emergencies. An initial explosion that took one month earlier, led to the generation of a report that mentioned that if large fire occurs from the gas then it will lead to disastrous situation. However, the management ignored the report on the account that such condition will never arise. The failure of inter-platform gas lines led to the destruction of Piper Alpha and prevented evacuation of workers.
The case study above explains how the lackluster attitude and various technical issues and poor implementation of preventive measures led to the disaster. This project management paper will be drawing upon the conditions faced by the Piper Alpha and the risk mitigation plans that should be implemented to prevent future such conditions.
This case study is formed from the report published in UK government publication The Public Inquiry into the Piper Alpha Disaster (the Lord Cullen report).
In the end, the report will discuss how to implement the change in the organization that has embraced the conventional methods and might not be ready yet to accept the change.
The report will include the experimental and theoretical progresses that has been made in the offshore structure over the decade and special focus has been placed on the implementing the new found wisdom in optimizing the design of structures. The report also mentions the improvements in interpretation and tools that has took placed after the Piper Alpha disaster.
Risk Identification and Mitigation Plan
There has been serious study into the risk related to explosion at the Piper Alpha and the central problem that came out was in making the projections about the nature of combustion waves that are associated with large structures. It has been found that different scale parameters require different orientation in understanding the physics and chemistry associated with it. The studies conducted at smaller scale based on the designs that were used with limited understanding of the explosion nature were found less significant (Attetkov et al., 1988). If the tests are conducted on the large scale that mimic the phenomenology of real life conditions, then it might lead to some significant results that will hold some importance.
To understand the large scale explosion issues, new study plans came out that were more realistic in nature. It deals with the questions on how does leaks happen in offshore module of such an extensive size and what would be the conditions if explosions takes place in such module and the extent of mitigation that can be taken into account.
However, Taylor and Hirst (1989), suggested the procedure that showed that how the small scale experiments can be used to understand the limitations of the large scale rigs in terms of explosion flames. It advocated on the use of more reactive gas at the small scale – for example methane – and relating it to the full scale nature of the impact. The method designed by them focused on creating a Troll platform which was used by Samuel demonstrating the impact at the scale of 1/12 of the original size.
Mentioned below are the various mitigations that can be applied in such explosion cases that came out of the result of the experiments mentioned above:
(i) Mitigation by design: According to Bakke, the best method to mitigate the risk of explosion can be done from the initial by designing the rig which will be the more cost-effective way to reduce the explosion that takes place due to pressure. Paterson et al., suggested the method in which optimizing the design with pig launchers could reduce the CFD overpressure from on average 4 bar to 0.5 bar. The paper seems to be the perfect example of how optimizing the design related to mitigating the explosion at an early stage could lead to results with low or almost zero cost of optimization and can also protect staffers from implementation of optimization at later stage that would be more time consuming and costly affair. Paterson et al., has also suggested that focusing on the detailed implementation is the key to keep things safe from future explosion, which might include every single detail such skids or racks that are used for cable.
(ii) Water Sprays: The studies have suggested that use of water sprays that have the ability to deliver water drops in the fine mist form can be used to protect from fire. The devices that deliver fine mist have yet not developed in its full capacity and there are still some improvements that have to be made, but if it is achieved, then the safety process can be useful. There are various testing that has been conducted in the past decade, for example, one device used thermal energy that was contained in superheated water at 180 degree Celsius. After the discharge, immediate flashes could occur and droplets that came out were of the size of 10 micron range. The recent testing was done with one of the Micromist (the device explained above), in a small size model of off shore module. The experiment was conducted by Tam et al, and they used four devices for the purpose, where the two of them were placed on the roof that led the water to discharge downward and the other two was placed in such a way that the water was discharged in horizontal pattern. They used various ignition level and discharge time to read the success of the experiment. The result of the experiment was path breaking and it showed that spray of mist can prevent flame from propagation and can suppress the flame and its explosion within. The result also showed that the effectiveness of the Micromist lies between the use of a good diluents and perfect suppressant.
(iii) Barrier Mitigation Methods: Though this method has been focused less from the side of experimenters, it seems successful if one of the Tam’s experiment is taken into consideration. Tam took the experiment using the barrier methods for controlling the explosion. The result of the experiments were consoling, it showed that the barrier can control the impact of the explosion from the gas. The experimentation was done by separating one section from another. This way, one section where explosion has not taken place can be protected from the exploded section. According to Tam, there are various methods that can be used such as, using hard barriers or say blast walls for the protection, and other can be the use of membranes or the soft and suppressive barriers.
(iv) Statistical Treatments: It has been previously understood that there exists major difference between what the statistics show about the probability of explosion and what actually happens. However, some of the current development suggests that the use of proper data can help in understanding and forecasting the occurrence of explosion. The statistical method employ almost similar approach to that of employed in mechanical engineering for example understanding the wind load, size of the gas cloud and the place where the offshore module is located.
The above mitigation plans can be used to prevent the impact of gas explosion that haunts the offshore modules in their operation.
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(i) Human Resource: Right personnel will be chosen from within and outside the organization to facilitate the management of the project. The researches have shown that if the project are not handled by the competent managers, then the project can lose its momentum and various user requirements can be ignored. The implementation of the project requires motivated people who can adapt according to the changing environment. They should be able to help project managers and the management team play an effective leadership role. On the other hand, the project managers should be able to help his people identify the various project stages and activities that are required for the project completion. They can help build phase-wise plans that ensure that the people working on the project has the required skills and they are motivated enough to meet the project demand. People on the project should share common vision and facilitate workshops and required changes. Demonstration of personal adaptability will be the key to choose the required personnel. The managers should be able to provide proper training and key knowledge to the workers who will be employed on the project which will in ensuring their proper safety at the offshore module development.
(ii) Material Suppliers: Development of offshore module risk mitigation elements will require various materials that will be procured from right suppliers. Only those suppliers will be chosen those have the reputation of supplying quality products to the users in the past decade.
(iii) Technology: The project development will require some improved technology to implement all the necessary elements at the offshore module. These will be procured from reputed technology companies. They will come with experts who will be able to handle the machines effectively. If necessary, they will provide required training to the workers before the initalisation of the project.
An effective and efficient communication plan will help in keeping the project requirement and progress consistent with the actual demand of the project. It is ensured that all the stakeholders are getting same information about the project improvements. This will prevent any confusion among them and thus the project will progress without any reputation of the tasks.
The communication plan in the offshore module development will take place in various modes. First will be through the use of local radio transmitters, which will be used by workers on the offshore module to communicate with each other for any certain discussion, instruction or information; second will be through emails, which will be used to communicate with higher authority that are overlooking the project. And the third will be through regular meeting between project staffs and the manager.
The regular communication in the offshore development will help the workers and engineers to remain productive by staying in the loop about the project development and daily improvements. This will help them in staying comfortable with what they are doing is contributing to the success of the overall project. Also, proper communication will allow the workers and engineers to work in coordination and collaboration which impacts the effectiveness of the project performance (Heerkens, 2002).
Moreover, an effective communication helps the project manager to direct the focus of the team to the required project outcome. It is evident that if there is the lack of proper communication with the various stakeholders, the project manager might fail to deliver the project as per requirement. The communication will help the project manager to gain step by step instruction from the higher authority and in figuring out what exactly is required to be delivered at each phase and at the end of the project combined.
The project schedule requires proper documentation of the project, which should be broken down in every piece (Clark, 1952). It also allows assigning resources effectively, being it human, or material. This project has used Gantt chart showcase the project schedule that is shown in the images at the end of the project in Appendix A. Gantt chart has been prepared using MS Project. Given below is the project breakdown that has been done to facilitate the proper conduct of the offshore module project development:
The project will begin from January 4, 2016 and will end on April 4, 2016. Mentioned below are the personnel who will handle the tasks at different project development phase.
(i) Determining Project Scope: Analyst
(ii) Secure Project Sponsorship: Project Manager and Analyst
(iii) Define Preliminary Resources: Analyst
(iv) Secure Core Resources: Resource Manager
(v) Conduct Need Analysis: Analyst, Business Analyst
(vi) Draft Preliminary Material Requirement: User, Project Manager, Management
(vii) Review Material Specifications/Budget with team: Project Manager/Management
(viii) Incorporate feedback on material specifications: Project Manager
(ix) Develop delivery timeline: Project Manager Technical Advisor
(x) Obtain approval to proceed: Project Manager
(xi) Secure Required Resource: Resource Manager
(xii) Review Preliminary Design Specification: Analyst
(xiii) Develop Functional Specification: Project Analyst
(xiv) Develop Prototype based on functional Specification: Engineers
(xv) Review functional specification: Engineers and Project Analyst
(xvi) Incorporate feedback on functional specification: Engineers
(xvii) Obtain approvals to proceed: Project Manager
(xviii) Review functional Specification: Senior Engineer
(xix) Identify modular/tiered design parameters: Analyst
(xx) Assign development engineers: Project Manager
(xxi) Develop the Project: Engineers
(xxii) Develop unit test plans using product specification: Analyst
Monitoring and Controlling
The project management of offshore modular modification will be using various monitoring and control methods. They are mentioned below:
(i) The monitoring and control will include collection of performance information and assessing the measures and trends to forecast the impact of such actions and then suggesting the corrective actions for the same. It also helps in informing the project team about the preventive actions they can take to mitigate the forecasted risks based on their current actions. It can recommended repairs for the defected modules and request various changes as required.
(ii) The next is the use of integrated control processes which will ensure that project corrective actions are taken across the project knowledge areas. This includes approval of the change requests, updating the project plan as per new requirements that has arise suddenly, and approval of any corrective and preventive actions required to conduct the project successfully.
(iii) Monitoring and Controlling also requires verifying the scope of the project and ensure that the project performance does not deviate from its required deliverables. Its various outputs include the acceptance of deliverables, requests to change if needed and the recommendation of corrective measures as per requirement.
These are the various monitoring and control measures that will be taken by the concerned staff during the project development.
Change Management Details
The first step to ensure the better change implementation is to communicate properly to the people who will be affected by the change. However, in the case of offshore module development, there is rare chance that people will not embrace the change as it is for their safety and protection from any miss-happenings. Protection of their lives is important from the management perspectives and from their side also. Therefore, the only thing that should be in the purview of the project manager would be the proper implementation of the technical side.
Bakke, J.R. and van Wingerden, K. “Guidance for designing offshore modules evolving from gas explosion research” SPE paper 24617 763- 770 (1992)
Campbell, G. Michael. Communications Skills For Project Managers. New York: AMACOM, 2009. Print.
Clark, Wallace. The Gantt Chart ... Third Edition. Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons: London, 1952. Print.
Cullen, W. Douglas. The Public Inquiry Into The Piper Alpha Disaster. London: H.M.S.O., 1990. Print.
Heerkens, Gary. Project Management. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002. Print.
Knutson, Joan, and Ira Bitz. Project Management. New York, NY: AMACOM, 1991. Print.
Paterson, K. , Tam, V.H.Y., Moros, T. and Ward-Gittos, D. “The design of BP ETAP platform against gas explosions” Jnl Loss Prevn Proc Ind 13, 73 – 79 (2000)
Thomsett, Michael C. The Little Black Book Of Project Management. New York: AMACOM, 2002. Print.
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