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DNV-GL proposes dynamic barrier management JIP

By Alex Endress, Editorial Coordinator

DNV-GL Principal Consultant Bill Nelson discussed a proposal for a new barrier management JIP at the IADC Drilling Engineers Committee Tech Forum on 9 March in Houston.
DNV-GL Principal Consultant Bill Nelson discussed a proposal for a new barrier management JIP at the IADC Drilling Engineers Committee Tech Forum on 9 March in Houston.

While most rig crews may be aware of the existence of various barriers to well control incidents on a rig, they may not be acutely aware of the health of those barriers or have knowledge of what to do if a barrier fails. To address this, DNV-GL is proposing a joint industry project (JIP) under the IADC Drilling Engineers Committee (DEC). It would apply concepts from the nuclear power industry to give rig crews better decision support for dynamic barrier management. “Instead of just identifying barriers and looking at them occasionally, we want to be able to monitor them continuously,” Principal Consultant Bill Nelson said at the DEC Tech Forum on 9 March in Houston. He is seeking additional participants for the JIP ahead of a launch meeting that is being planned for later this spring.

The JIP would adapt a strategy called a response tree, which identifies what personnel should do if barriers to hazardous events fail and points to multiple branches of alternative paths to safety. “It was developed in the nuclear industry when they realized they needed to anticipate and manage accidents,” Mr Nelson said. The model provides a formal analysis of information requirements to make decisions. “It is a way to delineate the success paths that are needed to maintain barriers and identify the elements of those success paths that must function properly.”

DNV-GL has consulted with the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and companies from within the drilling industry regarding the framework for the JIP. “The clear message was to focus on the decision-making side and to focus on well integrity throughout the lifecycle of the well,” Mr Nelson said. The JIP would seek to eliminate common challenges to barrier management, such as knowledge of the status of barriers and confidence in barrier functionality. “We monitor these elements so that when degradation occurs, we know whether our success paths are actually succeeding, and if not, we need to implement another one.”

The response tree differs from typical bowtie models used for barrier management, which do not provide decision support or alternative paths to safety upon barrier failure. “What’s fundamentally different about what we’re proposing to do is to supplement the bowtie diagram by looking at particular barriers and understanding what it requires for those areas to succeed in preventing and mitigating accidents.”

The JIP launch meeting, date to be determined, will identify a case study to test the response tree concept. The meeting will walk interested companies further through criteria of the response tree model for well control barriers. If successful, Mr Nelson said, the goal of the JIP would be to develop an informational architecture for a common consensus on dynamic barrier management. “This is not just within the organization or within the company, but it is external. It would potentially be communicated with regulatory bodies, such as BSEE, and external stakeholders.”

For more information on how to participate in the JIP, contact Mr Nelson at

Click here to view the Drilling Engineers Committee JIP webpage.


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