Petroleum products are an essential energy resource and they will continue to be for years to come. Our sector produces these vital products and confidence in the safety of our operations is paramount. Our industry does involve potential risks that are greater than those in many other sectors and for this month’s column I want to focus on safety.

Next month will mark 10 years since the incident at the Hertfordshire Oil Storage terminal in Buncefield. After that, a Major Incident Investigation Board (MIIB) was formed to investigate and it later issued a number of recommendations for industry, regulators and the emergency services.

However, industry did not sit back and wait. It joined forces with the regulators and trade unions and formed the Buncefield Standards Task Group to set out what needed to be done to avoid another incident of this nature and agree common standards for equipment and operations. This collaboration led to the establishment of the Process Safety Leadership Group, which oversaw the implementation of those standards and the promotion of process safety as the modus operandi for all major hazard sites.

The group addressed all of the MIIB recommendations and published a comprehensive response in a report titled Safety and Environmental Standards for Fuel Storage Sites. In response, the industry has set a higher standard of storage control and protection for those sites where these measures are appropriate. In addition, industry, regulators and unions have developed the Principles of Process Safety Leadership which are applicable to all major hazard businesses. These principles are crucial to successful management within the major hazards sector and have been adopted through a number of trade associations.

In particular, the UKPIA Assuring Safety initiative is a key example of these process safety principles in action. UKPIA members are committed to protecting people and the environment and to improving safety in the downstream oil industry. This commitment is supported through standards and training development, information sharing and a number of important initiatives.

For more information on the work of UKPIA in process safety, visit