Leveraging Process Safety Techniques in Early Phases of Capital Projects to Optimize Risk Reduction and Project Costs

  • Type:
    Conference Presentation
  • Conference Type:
    AIChE Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety
  • Presentation Date:
    August 18, 2020
  • Duration:
    20 minutes
  • Skill Level:
  • PDHs:

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Within the lifecycle of a capital project, it is common to conduct process safety reviews once the design and site layout has reached a mature state. This often leads to project team frustrations because at this advanced stage of design, mitigating hazards and risks is either difficult or costly due to the high level of rework associated with moving hazards/ populations to safer locations, layers of protections to be added to design systems, and ensuring the buildings are robust enough to protect personnel from identified hazards. One way to mitigate the frustrations associated with late stage changes is to introduce stage gate process safety reviews throughout the design phases. Note that it is critical that the stage gate process safety reviews align with the overall project schedule, so they can provide timely results and any recommendations can flow into the design process prior to progressing to the next stage.

Introducing stage gate process safety reviews early in the design phases has inherent challenges, most notably the lack of fully developed process design information and ongoing site layout changes. These challenges can be addressed through an application of “typical” unit hazards and layouts for a given type of unit, leveraging existing company asset process data, initial facility layout information, and corporate standards/guidance with respect to layout and spacing. This approach is most effective when using a highly adaptive feasibility approach early in the process where moving unit layouts and associated infrastructure requires minimum rework, improving upon scenario modelling and spacing with each iteration and improving availability of design data.

This paper will introduce a stage gate review process for optimizing unit locations, spacing, fire protection (passive and active), emergency response, population/building siting, and future construction and turnaround planning. The overall goal of a stage gate review process is to minimize personnel exposure, asset damage, and business interruption while also controlling costs and ensuring ease of project implementation. Through the early application of process safety design reviews, capital projects can optimize designs that meets geographic constraints and corporate safety goals around optimizing risk reduction while minimizing project and facility lifetime cost impacts.

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