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.