Risk analysis for operational decisions


For design of safe installations, Quantitative Risk Analysis (QRA) has developed into a powerful tool that has been successfully used for a number of years. Decisions about topics such as layout, safety systems, needs for protection of people and equipment can all be supported by output from QRAs. For day-to-day decision-making, QRA has however not turned out to be a tool that can provide the same support, in spite of many years of trying.

The core of this is the differences in the type of decisions. Safe operation requires deciding on when operations can be performed safely, performance or postponement of maintenance and testing, deciding about how to respond to degraded barriers and so on. In this situation, the technical systems and the design of the installation is more or less static and the activities determine the risk level. This requires activity modelling rather than modelling of technical systems which is the main basis of the QRA. It also requires much more rapid analysis, where the decision basis has to be updated and available on a daily basis. The long-term average risk calculated in a QRA also has to be replaced by information that can tell us about the short-term risk associated with activities. To use an analogy from meteorology, the QRA can tell us about the climate but for operational decisions we need weather forecasts.

In the MIRMAP project (Modelling Instantaneous Risk for Major Accident Prevention), Safetec is working together with The Norwegian University of Science and Technology and industry to develop new methods aimed specifically at operational decisions. The Norwegian Research Council and industry partners fund the project. The project was started in 2013 and is expected to be finished in 2016. The goal is to develop concepts and methods which can be tested on limited cases and to establish a basis which later can be used for practical implementation in a process plant.

Contact Stein Haugen, Stein.Haugen@safetec.no for more information.

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