Technical advances in the offshore industry and regulatory developments have spurred an update of the ABS Guide for Certification of Drilling Systems. First published in 1985 and last updated in 1990, the Guide references current standards and the recommendations of American Petroleum Institute (API). Importantly, the new Guide provides industry with an option for a “Safety Case” or risk-based analysis approach to certification, rather than applying the more traditional prescriptive rules reflected in the 1990 version of the Guide. Drilling equipment vendors and a number of drilling companies contribute to the effort reviewing the Guide and providing feedback for its improvement.
Risk assessment and recognition of risk-based alternatives are introduced into the guide, along with risk-based surveys for maintenance of class, as is consistent with the most recently issued ABS guides. References to issues such as fire fighting, fire-detection, safety, substructures, etc. are removed because industry can follow the requirements in the ABS MODU Rules.
Issuance of Independent Review Certificate (IRC) by ABS engineers is replaced with Product Design Assessment (PDA) certificates offered by ABS’ Type Approval Program. Issuance of Certificate of Conformity (COC) and ABS surveyor review of a manufacturer’s data-book is no longer required for ABS classification.
The ABS Type Approval Program is given more extensive coverage because most of the drilling system equipment is easily certified based on PDA and a manufacturer’s option of either Type Approval (TA) or Quality Assurance (QA), depending upon extent/frequency of vendor assessments by ABS. This option is in lieu of product certification by ABS surveyors. All certified drilling system equipment is now required to have a manufacturer’s affidavit, supplied with the equipment, for review by ABS surveyors prior to installation on board the drilling units (not required for submittal to ABS Engineering). Copies of the ABS Guide for Certification of Drilling Systems will be available from the ABS website at year’s end.