Concept selection process needs more emphasis on robustness

Two papers concerning uncertainty, robustness and ALARP in early project phases were published some months ago (see Is ALARP out?). Recent developments confirm that this is an issue where more emphasis is needed in the industry as well as in the administration. Several of the ongoing new development projects offshore are in their final stages of commissioning or preparations for starting-up, and showing significant delays. Some will argue that this is influenced by the choice of the fabrication yard. This may be so, but it is certainly not the only important factor.

A more fundamental factor mentioned in the papers (here and here) is the robustness of the overall decision-making involved in concept selection. The North Sea Edvard Grieg field may serve as a good example. When you are a relatively small organization without prior experience with these mega projects, many would agree with Lundin that it is more robust with respect to complying with budget and time schedule to choose fabrication in a Norwegian yard. Other operators have made other decisions. The Edvard Grieg operator appears to have made such considerations. This was also addressed by the Engen committee report.

What is lacking fundamentally is that such kind of robustness is explicitly integrated into the decision-making concerning concept selection. This is relevant for the industry in general, as well as for the administration. We know of concept selection decisions where a substantial chance of one year delay for one concept alternative might have reversed the selection of the most economical concept, but this was never addressed in the decision-making. The decisions may for other reasons have been the same, even if such considerations had been made. But a transparent and risk-informed decision-making should include such aspects in order to provide the widest possible fundament for making rational and well-informed decisions. We understand there is some work in PSA aimed at an increase of such emphasis.

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