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Terminal News

A top down approach to process safety

A top down approach to process safety
Sharul Rashid, principle engineer, instrument and control at Petronas explains how he implemented a structured approach to process safety within the company

The lack of a structured approach to process safety can have potentially catastrophic consequences. You only need to look at the Buncefield incident in 2005 and the Caribbean Petroleum Terminal facility explosion in 2009 to appreciate how devastating these consequences can be.

Mindful of these incidents and keen to ensure that these did not occur at Petronas now or in the future, Sharul Rashid, principle engineer, instrument and control, and other executives implemented a series of measures to ensure that the company had a structured and focused approach to functional safety.

Previously, the company was governed by its HSEMS Safety Technical standard, and no specific standard existed to govern process safety.

In an interview with Tank Storage Magazine Rashid explains: ‘From 1971 to 1996 there were 28 process safety incidences. From 1998 there were cases of history repeating itself, with the Buncefield incident in England in December 2005 and just four years later with the CAPECO explosion.

‘Both were due to common issues – a failure in the overfill protection system – which forms part of the important Safety Instrumented Function (SIF). In this respect, our company cannot afford to have a similar incident now or in the future.’

Rashid explains that executives at Petronas focused on a top down approach to ensure compliance with a focus on functional safety.

‘I ensure that Petronas complies with the IEC61511 Functional Safety Management standard, which is the primary reference for the company’s technical standard for functional safety management.

‘With the established SIF framework and Safety Integrity Level (SIL) Study roadmap for Petronas in place, the company has eliminated the possible dangerous failure on demand. This has been reflected in saving of $100,000 to more than $10 million, depending on the severity of the impact on people’s safety, the environment and production loss.’

Rashid will be speaking more about process safety compliance and a structured approach to managing the safeguard layer in compliance with the IEC61511 standard on the second day of the Tank Storage Asia conference at the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore on September 26 - 27. For more information, visit