BP, Petrotechnics detail competence management system at OTC forum

The idea of competence management for offshore workers is hardly a new concept, but new approaches are being developed. BP PLC and Petrotechnics Ltd., Aberdeen, have created the Competence Management Assurance System (CMAS) to manage the oil company's offshore workforce.

May 4th, 2001


By Zamora Jenkins
Staff Writer
Oil & Gas Journal

HOUSTON, May 3 -- The idea of competence management for offshore workers is hardly a new concept, but new approaches are being developed.

BP PLC in conjunction with Petrotechnics Ltd., Aberdeen -- a web developer of e-solutions -- have created the Competence Management Assurance System (CMAS) to manage the oil company's offshore workforce, they told the Offshore Technology Conference Thursday.

"It has been common practice for generations that supervisors and managers have been responsible for ensuring that those charged with operating costly and hazardous plant and equipment were indeed competent to carry out that work. The methods used have typically been informal, relying on observation, experience, familiarity, judgment, and instinct," said Jack Haddock, BP, and Michael Neill, Petrotechnics, in a paper titled "CMAS, An Innovative Approach to Offshore Worker Training and Competence."

Competence management became a compliance issue in the late 1980s early 1990s for the offshore oil and gas industry, especially after the deadly explosion on the Piper Alpha platform in the North Sea in 1988. Safety case regulations issued by the Health & Safety Directorate required operators to identify how they manage the competence and training of individuals on their offshore installations.

In March 1998, a project was launched at BP in Aberdeen to develop a common system for competence management, called CMAS, which is the system that defines the competence required in specific job roles in order to assess an individual's ability to meet those requirements.

The five basic elements of CMAS are:

-- Role or profile. This is the requirement of the position and specifies the competence required in order to fulfill that position.

-- People. This element helps to determine if an individual has the skills to meet the requirements of the position.

-- Training. This is the method by which people receive the "underpinning knowledge," which makes them competent.

-- Assessment. This method checks an individual's skills and knowledge to determine if he or she is suitable for the position.

-- CMAS operating system. This is the web-based database that holds the process together. The system was planned to record the competencies of individuals and enable them to be compared to profiles. It was also designed to interface with other systems, such as the training database used by BP.

The CMAS operating system was implemented in the UK, and "we have 30 CBT generic training modules built," said Phil Murray, founder and managing director of Petrotechnics. Assessment is underway and the system is being expanded into the global emerging areas for BP and also its downstream business.

"Successful implementation of CMAS marks the end of a long road that BP has followed since the early 1990s trying to find a satisfactory solution for managing the competencies of its offshore workforce," said Haddock and Neill.

"What began as an initiative driven more by government compliance than for business reasons turned into a crusade for what a new and radical approach to competence management," they said.

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