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PETROMAKS2-Stort program petroleum

Safety 4.0: Demonstrating safety of novel subsea technologies

Alternative title: Safety 4.0: Demonstrasjon av sikkerhet for ny undervannsteknologi

Awarded: NOK 8.9 mill.

Project Number:


Project Period:

2018 - 2021



Partner countries:

Subsea technology is important for development of Norwegian petroleum resources and represents a large export industry for Norway. It is expected that 68 out of 88 discoveries on the Norwegian Continental Shelf will be developed with a subsea solution. Driven by the need for cost-reductions and more difficult operating conditions, novel subsea concepts and technologies emerge, such as all-electric, new subsea processing technologies, more integration between topside and subsea control systems or between process control and process safety systems, more use of sensors to monitor process condition and integrity of safety systems, etc. Norwegian HSE regulations, based on functional requirements, accommodate and promote innovation that can enhance safety. However, safety of novel subsea technologies may be cumbersome to demonstrate, because parts of the existing regulations and current standards are adapted to existing technology solutions and may be difficult to apply and less accommodating to novel concepts. New technologies introduce new uncertainties, and these must be addressed in a robust and appropriate way. As part of a consortium consisting of operators, suppliers, academia and the Petroleum Safety Authority (as an observer), the Safety 4.0 project was tasked in 2018 with developing a safety demonstration framework to enable and accelerate the safe adoption of new cost-efficient subsea solutions. The Safety 4.0 project has developed a new framework consisting of a set of guidelines and a knowledge database providing the industry with a unified approach to demonstrate the safety of novel technologies. It applies a systemic and uncertainty-based risk perspective, including how to deal with different types of failure, increasing complexity, and uncertain assumptions. Like the Norwegian regulations, this framework also refers to international safety standards for programmable electronic systems. However, the Safety 4.0 framework puts these standards into a wider context by highlighting their scope, value and limitations, and the areas where they are open to interpretation. The Safety 4.0 framework guidelines provide a high-level overview of the safety demonstration process, including various activities and stakeholder involvement. It also gives advice on how to achieve an efficient safety demonstration process by identifying and focusing on the particular novelties of the activities and solutions. The approach also supports effective safety demonstration, that is, it ensures that conclusions are robust by providing practical guidance on the construction of safety arguments and treatment of uncertainties and assumptions throughout the safety demonstration process. Using the framework will provide industry stakeholders with an alternative argumentation strategy to demonstrate that novel solutions meet the intent of regulations and are fit for purpose. The framework could make it possible to adopt solutions that are cheaper to deploy and operate while being just as safe as existing solutions.

The project has: - developed knowledge and results (principles, methods, etc.) that the participants have applied as part of ongoing technology developments - developed a framework (set of guidelines) that can be used to demonstrate safety for novel subsea technologies, in particular for systems with increasing complexity, e.g. increased degree of software dependencies. The guidelines may result in future developments when current technology developments are sufficiently matured -created a platform for sharing of knowledge and resolving common challenges independent from competition, such as maturing requirements and high-level design across suppliers, operators and authorities -created results that potentially may be used in future updates of existing industry standards and guidelines -results and discussions that have helped communication between industry and authorities on ongoing technology developments

Norwegian HSE regulations, based on functional requirements, accommodate and promote innovation that can enhance safety. However, safety of novel subsea technoloiges may be cumbersome to demonstrate, because current standards may be difficult to apply and less accommodating to novel concepts. This project addresses the need for a common framework and approach that can properly demonstrate safety for new technologies that deviate from current practices. It should support novel concepts with high level of digitalization which have the potential to improve safety, even when it challenges existing practices. This project will employ three use-cases to exemplify the above: UC1: All-electric safety system, for which existing fail-safe philosophies do not apply, and new ones are needed UC2: A subsea process solution, where process- and safety systems share elements of sensors and control, requires a new life-cycle perspective on safety which also deal with dependencies UC3: Demonstrating safety of novel subsea technology based on API RP 17V The framework will: -be aligned with the uncertainty-based risk definition adopted by PSA -be based on a systems perspective to handle emerging failures in increasingly integrated and software-intensive systems -take advantage of digitalization for online safety demonstration in operations The project brings together safety- and subsea experts from the regulator (PSA), operators (Equinor, Lundin, Neptune Energy, Total), suppliers (ABB, TechnipFMC, Aker Solutions, OneSubsea), DNV GL and two of Norway's leading academic research groups on safety (NTNU, UiS), to ensure alignment with industry- and regulator needs and a sound scientific basis. PETROMAKS2 support will bring additionality by funding a PhD and a post doc., and enable the industry to collaborate on a topic no individual company would be able to carry alone. The application is directed to thematic priority area 5, but also addresses cross-cutting priority areas Digitalization and Challenges related to the introduction and use of new technology.

Funding scheme:

PETROMAKS2-Stort program petroleum