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Summary report on the OSD hydrocarbon release reduction campaign, April 2000 to March 2004


OG status:
Fully open
Author unit / section:
Target audience:
All OSD Inspectors
Version No:


1. This SPC links to the summary report on the OSD hydrocarbon release reduction campaign, 2000-2004. This SPC replaces SPC/Tech/OSD/27 which has been withdrawn.


2. In April 2000, HSE initiated a campaign to reduce RIDDOR reportable hydrocarbon releases offshore to 50% of the 1999-2000 baseline year. The target was to be achieved by April 2004.

3. Two projects were put in place:

4. The report associated with this SPC summarises the results of the 2000-2001 and 2003-2004 investigation projects.

5. Data are analysed regarding size, type and cause of release. The ‘end of campaign’ results showed a 56% reduction in major release and a 28% reduction in significant releases. There was, however, a deterioration from the position at the end of 2003/4, which was thought to be due to over-confidence that the target would be met. The number of minor releases rose over the course of the campaign, but this was thought to be largely due to increased reporting.

6. The releases were analysed by operating mode, release site, release mechanism, immediate and underlying causes, and failed safeguarding systems. Potential additional safeguarding systems were also identified in some cases. The majority of releases in both years involved gas and occurred during normal production. Pipework was the main release site, with small bore piping a significant contributor.

7. The most frequent immediate cause in 2003/4 was corrosion / erosion at 23% of all releases, followed by degradation of material properties and incorrect installation both at 16%. Operator error and procedural problems accounted for around 70% of the 2003/4 releases from pipes or valves opened to the atmosphere. Nearly 60% of all the 2003/4 releases had hardware related immediate causes, the remainder being ‘software’ or human-factor related. Comparative figures for the 2000/1 releases are given. Inadequate inspection / condition monitoring featured strongly in the 2003/4 underlying causes, as did inadequate design.

8. The main failed safeguard identified in both years was inspection / condition monitoring, suggesting that effective plant and operation status checks, along with good personnel supervision, are significant factors in preventing releases.

9. The report documents the industry ‘good practice’ guides produced during the campaign as remedial measures to try to improve standards in identified problem areas and comments on their initial impact whilst noting that many have only been issued relatively recently.

10. Finally, the report notes the excellent co-operation from the offshore industry with the campaign and describes some of the supporting activities at both the company and trade association level.

Further information

Contact OSD3.1, 0151 951 5747

Updated 2010-05-18