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Safety assurance for gas storage facility

HIMA’s consulting helped APA to ensure that the functional safety management systems for gas storage were robust, effective, and aligned with industry best practices.

APA Group, Australia’s largest natural gas infrastructure business, engaged HIMA Consulting Australia to provide advisory services for its Mondarra Gas Storage Facility (MGSF) to help ensure that the functional safety management systems were robust, effective and aligned with industry best practices.

HIMA’s consulting helped APA to ensure that the functional safety management systems for MGSF were robust, effective, and aligned with industry best practices.  At the end of the consultation process, HIMA and APA had a well-documented set of quantifiable actionable steps.  

Safety in action

After implementation, APA managed to achieve maximum functional safety for all the systems in the facility, thus enhancing staff safety, plant integrity and productivity.  On the legislative front, HIMA’s consultation contributed to MGSF complying with all the strictest regulations and standards, thus making it a world-class gas storage facility.  Moving forward, APA intends to use the results and safety framework arising from HIMA’s services as a blueprint for planned projects in the coming years.

Jamie Hudson, Principal Safety & Risk Engineer at HIMA Group, said: “HIMA is one of only a handful of companies in the world that is certified by the technical Inspection Association TÜV for functional safety management who is well positioned to consult on APA’s complex operations at MGSF.  During training and consultation, we analysed and audited safety management systems, plant processes, and procedures across the complete lifecycle to ensure that APA achieved maximum functional safety.
“Typically, engineers are very busy professionals.  But because our approach is very practical and hands-on, the participants saw the value we could add to help them do a better job. The feedback from all the participants was great and they even said they hoped to attend future courses conducted by HIMA.”

The technical details

After an in-depth study and analysis, HIMA established a framework to meet both the strictest requirements of the legislation and industry best practices. The framework included assessing the functional safety systems and procedures used during the upgrade in order to identify gaps and/or opportunities for improvement; provide assurance that functional safety had been achieved; and finally, develop plans and procedures to address opportunities for improvement identified by APA during the project.

To achieve the aims of the framework, HIMA initiated a series of functional safety activities.

  • Functional safety training for operators and maintenance staff
  • Safety Integrity Level (SIL) assessment workshop review
  • SIL verification
  • Developing Safety Instrumented System (SIS) operations and maintenance plans
  • Functional Safety Assessment (FSA)
  • Developing SIS verification planning specification for use on future projects
  • Developing a procedure of conducting SIL verification, probabilistic calculations
  • Developing a formal functional safety competency management framework 


HIMA also provided facilitation and transcribing for a SIL Assessment workshop using the Layers of Protection Analysis (LOPA) technique. The SIL assessment workshop covered a number of safety critical plant areas and systems, including gas regeneration heater and the Burner Management System (BMS); gas compression and the associated safety critical controls; the process plant and the associated Emergency Shutdown (ESD) system.

Whilst the LOPA technique is well documented and widely used within the process industry, the unique approach used by HIMA has been refined through the delivery of more than 150 workshops.  This approach offers clients maximum efficiency, whilst developing robust and justifiable outcomes. HIMA’s approach also includes spending time and effort in understanding a client’s operations so as to accurately capture all the nuances and give a precise analysis. 

Another feature to note is the use of customised LOPA worksheets for safety functions operating in both low and high/continuous demand hazardous scenarios of process operation. Generally, when a particular hazardous scenario places a high demand rate on the required SIS, it is not well-recognised and thus not duly noted in the standard LOPA.  However, HIMA’s worksheets allow for easy calculation of key parameters such as demand rate and risk reduction factors. They also allow safety, financial and environmental factors to be captured on a single page so as to keep documentation tight and easy to disseminate. The worksheets also prompt the user for detailed notes on the initiating causes, consequences, and protection layers. 

From the quality documentation captured during the workshop, the participants used the worksheets to develop and record a detailed and reasoned argument, with supporting analysis and information referenced.  This allowed future reviewers to understand and justify how the outcomes were derived in the LOPA report by the study team.

APA owns and operates gas-fired power stations, wind farms, and gas storage facilities, including the Mondarra Gas Storage Facility (MGSF). All photos © APA
MGSF is an underground gas storage facility strategically located at the intersection of the Dampier to Bunbury Natural Gas Pipeline and Parmelia Gas Pipeline.
HIMA’s consulting ensured the functional safety management systems are robust, effective and aligned with industry best practices.

Background: About APA

APA Group is an ASX listed company owning and operating energy infrastructure assets worth around A$20 billion.  These assets include 15,000 kilometres of natural gas pipelines that connect sources of supply to markets across Australia.  APA also owns and operates gas-fired power stations, wind farms, and gas storage facilities, including the Mondarra Gas Storage Facility (MGSF). MGSF is an underground gas storage facility strategically located at the intersection of the Dampier to Bunbury Natural Gas Pipeline and Parmelia Gas Pipeline.  Both of these pipelines service Perth and the south-west of Western Australia.

HIMA’s consulting ensures high safety and reliability

The primary goal is to achieve maximum functional safety for all systems and to effectively protect people and facility.  HIMA’s consulting ensured the functional safety management systems are robust, effective and aligned with industry best practices.

  • Expertise: APA has the benefit of the deep knowledge of HIMA’s consultant.  The consultant knows the customer’s operation and the specific requirements of the processes which are complex and mission-critical. As such, the workshops were conducted in an engaging and in-depth manner that addressed many real-life issues.  Also, HIMA used a technical person with process engineering and functional safety experience to transcribe and document the proceedings.  This resulted in workshop efficiency, quality information and allowed notes to be captured in parallel as the discussion progressed.  APA benefited from a significant increase in execution speed, thus saving considerable resource time and cost. Moreover, APA intended to use the results and safety framework arising from HIMA’s consulting as a blueprint for planned projects in the coming years.


  • Customised training:  Thanks to HIMA’s personalised services, APA received two customised training sessions onsite for operators and maintenance staff as well as engineering and management personnel.  Before the training, HIMA conducted extensive research through in-depth discussions with APA’s management so that it could personalise and specifically tailor the training to APA’s needs. 


  • Focus on real-life scenarios:  HIMA took an interactive approach whereby it engaged actively with the participants in real-life scenarios.  The consultant conducted a site walkabout and went through all the relevant regulations and procedures in real time.  This way, the participants gained a deeper understanding and appreciation while at the same time, were made aware of the impacts of their actions. They became confident of not exposing the facility and themselves to unnecessary risks.  At the end of the training, he conducted Q&A sessions to discuss specific questions that were raised. As compared to a classroom-based theoretical training, the HIMA approach is much more effective as the participants learn through a hands-on style and ask work-related questions that the consultant can answer and demonstrate on the spot as training took place onsite.

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