How to Survive a Rig Inspection: Part 8

Safety Systems

In this series, our head of Rig Inspection Services Steven Lee shares tips on how operators and owners can get through rig inspections with flying colours – and which pitfalls to avoid! Mr Lee has more than a hundred rig inspections under his belt, from all parts of the world. Part 8 looks at the importance of a rig’s safety systems.

Arguably, the most important part of any rig inspection is the safety systems, i.e. Fire and Gas Detection and Prevention System and Abandon Rig equipment. Basically, all the best bits covered by IMO MODU Code.

It could also be argued that these areas are already well covered by classification surveys and flag state inspections. The reality is that although classification and flag state inspection undoubtedly address these areas, they are often very brief inspections where only targeted items are addressed.

Rig inspection teams typically inspect at a much more detailed level, both on the equipment functionality side and on the documentation side.

The level of detail that rig inspections go into depends upon the scenario of the inspection or lifecycle of the rig. During a new build acceptance, it is much more likely that more in-depth testing will be done, e.g. in fire and gas system testing, where 100% testing of fire detection systems is common.

Do you know that during the commissioning of drillships with hundreds of fire detector heads that very few are actually tested from end to end? On one major project that I was involved with, less than 2% of the fire detectors were planned to be tested during commissioning. The outcome of this level of commissioning often leads to poor descriptions of fire detector location or completely incorrect locations of fire detector heads. Although we normally attribute this type of problem to new builds, this type of issue has been encountered on rigs that have been in service for considerable periods of time.

Safety Systems

Another issue, which has reared its head far more frequently than you would imagine, involves lifeboat and liferaft capacities. As the average bodyweight has increased over the last few decades, the regulations around the design of life-saving appliances have had to adapt. IMO (Modu Code and SOLAS) moved from 75 Kg per person to 82.5 Kg per person in 2012. Over the years, other countries have set their own weight requirements, such as the UK where, in 2008, the average weight was changed to 98 Kg per person. In Norway, the average weight is considered to be 100 Kg per person.

Surprisingly, this is a common problem found during inspections, whereby rigs still have incorrectly rated lifeboats and liferafts, having not kept up with the regulation changes. And if changes have been made to keep up with the regulations then often documentation such as the Approved Life-Saving Appliances plans are not correctly updated.

With added complexity and safety systems being integrated into these Integrated Management Systems – with hundreds of automated actions based upon detected problems – it is essential that appropriate appraisals of this equipment are conducted regularly.

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