ONS, Stavanger, Norway: There is increasing emphasis from regulators on addressing uncertainty in risk assessments to improve safety. DNV GL’s new paper, ‘Enabling confidence – addressing uncertainty in risk assessments’, describes an improved risk management approach to achieve adequate safety levels whilst keeping costs under control.
The new approach has been developed in collaboration with the University of Stavanger, Norway, and reflects recent developments in the risk science community. The paper is aligned with the thinking of the PSA in Norway, ISO 31000 and the Society for Risk Analysis.
Marianne Hauso, Head of Section, Safety Risk Management, DNV GL – Oil & Gas says: “The way we conduct risk assessments must be adapted to the needs of decision makers and the challenges they face at any given time. The purpose of the paper is to explain that uncertainty is an instrumental part of risk, and that assessing and communicating the impact of uncertainty can help clients tackle safety-critical decisions with more confidence. It goes beyond what can be quantified in terms of probabilities and exposes risks hidden in assumptions, giving a fuller risk picture.”
The paper discusses the overall challenge of understanding, interpreting and disseminating risk results. It explores the meaning of uncertainty in relation to risk and how to incorporate uncertainty as a means to assert appropriate actions. The research advocates an iterative, top-down approach to risk assessment, where the focus is placed on the decision-making situation.
“Some uncertainty is incorporated in the probabilities we assign and risk measures we calculate,” adds Hauso. “But some uncertainty is hidden in assumptions we make during the risk assessment. This is inevitable – and there is nothing wrong with making assumptions – as long as uncertainties associated with those assumptions are acknowledged and their implications on decisions are understood. Through this approach, together with proper risk communication, uncertainty can be translated into confident decisions and improved safety.”
Kjell Eriksson, Regional Manager Norway, DNV GL – Oil & Gas, concludes: “At DNV GL, we strive to continuously innovate our risk services, to empower our customers with improved confidence when facing difficult decisions impacting on safety. Risk assessments are more than a way to verify compliance with defined risk acceptance criteria. Addressing uncertainty in difficult decision-making processes can support, rather than deter, fact-based knowledge and scientific reasoning to keep our industry safe”.
The approach described in the paper is also the basis of a new upcoming DNV GL recommended practice (RP), ‘Effective update of risk assessments’. This RP will assist operators to maintain an updated risk picture during operations and stop the need for a new, comprehensive risk assessment at regular intervals. The RP will advise on how to identify deviations that matter and to implement appropriate measures to ensure that the risk is under control.