Bridging Document A Critical Tool in the Successful Execution of Well Operations
Well operations involving many service providers performing safety critical tasks must be effectively managed to ensure activity is carefully coordinated to avoid incidents resulting from misunderstandings and lack of information. The Oil and Gas Industry in The Netherlands is developing a Standard Bridging Document template that provides a structured Interface Management process to facilitate the exchange of information and identify the critical interfaces early on in the project.
People interface problems have existed since man first walked on our planet but it is only in recent years through rigorous incident investigation that the true extent of the problem has come to our attention. A key contributory factor to major accidents including, Exxon Valdez, Piper Alpha and Deepwater Horizon was: several people in key positions made individual assumptions based on perceived observations and the result was chaos and confusion. Consequently a number of key management interface problems were highlighted in the various investigation reports following these major accidents.
Solving people interface problems is without doubt a challenge for the oil and gas industry. Given the significance of human involvement in all our well operations, it is important that interactions between people are well managed and carefully coordinated to avoid incidents resulting from misunderstandings and lack of information. The success of any well operation is dependent on the exchange of high quality information between those responsible for the design of the job and those responsible for its execution. The systematic control of all communications that support a well operation can be described as Interface Management.
Typically in oil and gas projects, including well operations, a major factor impacting on the exchange of information is the contracting structure employed on the project. Even irrespective of the contracting model, well operations involve multiple service providers often working in different geographical locations with cultural and language differences. In these situations the ability to interface and coordinate information to minimize the risks associated with design, execution, project changes and new information is essential.
An effective tool to facilitate Interface Management in well operations is a Bridging Document. A prominent industry report published following the Deepwater Horizon accident recommends that a bridging document, describing the chain of command and agreed procedures for well control operations and emergency response, is agreed and put in place between the operator and drilling contractor.
In The Netherlands, the Dutch Oil and Gas Industry is going one step further. Their standard bridging document template will also include service providers delivering a safety critical task. This is to ensure that regardless of contracting structure the right people are interacting and exchanging key information through all the project phases.
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