Offshore Management of Change and Auditing Solution for Stena Drilling

Published by Graham Foss on
Stena Forth

Overview of Stena Drilling

Stena Drilling operate multiple vessels all over the world from its headquarters in Aberdeen. It maintains four ships for deepwater drilling and two semi-submersible drilling rigs.

Asset Guardian Solutions Limited (AGSL) has supplied Stena Drilling with an installation of Asset Guardian Version 5 on each of the vessels and a single central server at their Aberdeen head office.

Asset Guardian Solutions also provides biennial audits of the use of the Asset Guardian system on each of the vessels.

Challenge

Stena Drilling uses Asset Guardian to inventory all Automation and Control Equipment, and all Software including HMI, PLC and Configurations. Asset Guardian is also used for the Management of Change of Software, replacing a paper-based system of Software Control Forms.

To ensure that the processes and procedures of the Stena Software Configuration Management Plan were being followed, a system of independent auditing was required.

Prior to the introduction of Asset Guardian, software backups has been stored on external hard drives, in fire safes and on network drives, using procedures individual to each vessel dependant on its history.

Without a system of procedures and audits in place, there was a danger that having multiple vessels of different ages and histories would result in there being no common approach applied across the fleet and give rise to all the risks associated with the use of an unmanaged system.

Therefore, Stena Drilling opted to put procedures in place to ensure that a uniform system of using Asset Guardian was applied. This would counter problems including:

  • Multiple vessels of different types, ages and histories.
  • Divergence of different existing systems / lack of uniformity
  • Hang ups from paper based / spreadsheet systems

Furthermore, in order to ensure that Stena Drilling processes were being carried out in regards to the Asset Guardian Solution a system of biennial audits was required to ensure the procedures were being followed.

Solution

Stena Drilling Fleet
Stena Drilling Fleet- © Photo by Stena Drilling

With Asset Guardian, Stena Drilling already had a system of safely storing software backups, hardware and equipment information and for the management of change of software.

In addition, Asset Guardian has a team of experienced and dedicated technical consultants that are offshore certified and trained to carry out audits of all Automation and Controls industry systems, procedures and processes. An Audit process was developed, tailored to Stena Drilling’s software configuration management needs, and then put into practice.

The key actions of the audit are to:

  • Verify controls equipment details held within Asset Guardian against the physical equipment.
  • Verify software module backups stored within Asset Guardian are correctly named, recorded and version controlled.
  • Verify software module versions match between Asset Guardian and the live software in use.
  • Verify Software Control Forms are being raised, managed and closed correctly.
  • Record Inhibits and Overrides systems in place on the vessel.

As part of the audit process, typically an Asset Guardian technical consultant is dispatched to the vessel under audit to carry out the audit procedure over the course of 4 or 5 days, with all discrepancies being raised as Observations.

On the consultants return onshore, the Observations are compiled and processed into a set of Recommendations and Management Summaries. The completed Audit Report is then reviewed and submitted for comment, through a formal document control cycle.

Issues highlighted in the audit report are then actioned either by Stena Drilling or Asset Guardian depending on where the recommendation is targeted.

As part of the audit process, the audit procedure itself may be adapted to take into account decisions made on the usage and management of software stored in Asset Guardian, at the same time ensuring that as wide a coverage as possible is achieved by planning future audits based on the findings of the previous ones.

Result

Compliance management, Configuration Change Management, Disaster Recovery Solutions

Improvement recommendations raised by the audit have helped Stena Drilling to plan, coordinate and manage their backing up and recording of software and information into Asset Guardian.

Each vessel has now been audited multiple times, and each consecutive audit on individual vessels is, in part, tailored to focus on particular issues and recommendations that have been previously raised.

Regular audits also highlight to users problems that they may have been unaware off and helps maintain focus on using the system correctly.

Without the implementation of an audit process between Asset Guardian and Stena Drilling, problems with the their procedures would have taken much longer to identify and address, assuming that they were identified at all. Many issues could go unnoticed and unresolved indefinitely.

The emphasis on Management of Change, Risk Assessment and Auditing in the Oil & Gas Sector, already very large, is on the increase. Two of the five modules of the Minimum Industry Safety Training (MIST), required for all offshore workers, deal with these subjects. It is important not only to have safe and well managed processes and procedures, but to also be able to prove it, to clients and government agencies.

It is also worth remembering that external, independent, audits are superior to internal auditing, as has been has been proven time and again. With internal auditing systemic problems can, and do, increase until only a catastrophic event is enough to trigger a change of thinking.

The Asset Guardian audit process provides Stena Drilling  with a clear view of how their Application and Control Software management system is being used and how it can be improved.

If you would like more information about Asset Guardian, please fill out the contact form below and we will be in touch.

Written by Graham Foss. As one of AGSL’s team of Technical Consultants, Graham Foss is responsible for implementing the company’s product development and technology strategy. Before joining AGSL in 2016, Graham was employed for 12 years as a lead software engineer at Aker Solutions Subsea Ltd, where he worked on projects in the North Sea, North Atlantic and Norway. Graham holds a degree in Computing from Edinburgh’s Napier University in Edinburgh, where he graduated with distinction. A Chartered Engineer, he is a member of the Institution ofEngineering and Technology (IET).