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THE APPLICATION OF A VALUE ASSURANCE SYSTEM TO OIL & GAS DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

(MARINI, MATTU)
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THE APPLICATION OF A VALUE ASSURANCE SYSTEM TO OIL


GAS DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
(Guido Mattu, Franca Marini)

&

Ing. Guido Mattu


More than 25 years experience in Engineering and Project Management
activities in Oil & Gas development projects. At present Head of Project
Services Dept. in charge to provide project services in the area of project
planning and control, cost control, document management, value and risk
management. Past member of the working group for the development of
Eni E&P Development Project Management System (DMS). Expert in
Project Management systems, member of PMI chapter Rome, he has been
author of some papers in Oil & Gas conferences.
Dr. Franca Marini
She is Discipline Manager for Value & Risk Management performing
activities related to: Risk Management, Stakeholders Management, and
preparation of Assurance Checks, Decision Making, Value Improving
Practices, Value Engineering, Lessons Learned capture, storage, diffusion.
About 25 years experience in Planning and Scheduling, Progress
Tracking, Reporting, Budget and Cost Control and Value Management in
several development projects. She participated to the re-engineering of
Eni Opportunity and Projects Development System, coordinating the
Value Management group. Facilitator of Value & Risk Community of
Practice, member of PMI Chapter Rome and SAVE, she has been author
of some papers in Oil & Gas conferences.

THE APPLICATION OF A VALUE ASSURANCE SYSTEM TO OIL & GAS DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
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ABSTRACT
The oil and gas industry performs considerable investments in very complex and risky environments
to develop projects.
To improve the capital effectiveness, the Major Oil&Gas Companies assess the project value
performing reviews at specific milestones during project development.
Most of the Companies management systems foresee a project subdivision in phases with some
intermediate decision points. The Project Team presents to the Management the obtained results and
the plans for the following phase; this data is evaluated and decisions on if and how to afford the next
project phase are taken. The decisional process is supported by the recommendations that arise during
the reviews performed by multidisciplinary, independent, expert teams.
This practice assures both value and governance of projects that have a high level of risk from both a
technical and an economical point of view.
This paper will present:

the methodology of Value assurance Checks;

different types of project reviews;

how to prepare and conduct a review with a double perspective: the preparation by the
Project Team, the execution by the Review Team;

some techniques and practices for planning and executing the reviews;

the working experience and application of the project reviews in a major oil & gas
Company.

INTRODUCTION
A development project, in the oil and gas industry, starts with a discovery well and concludes with a
plant start-up. It usually requires several years to be realized and considerable investments in very
complex and risky environment.
To improve the capital effectiveness, the Major Oil&Gas Companies need to keep these considerable
investments under control and monitor that these projects continue to effectively create value for the
company.
This is the main reason why most of the Oil&Gas Companies manage their projects through a
development management system which states what has to be done, when and how.
A series of reviews and checks performed at specific milestones during project development are a
fundamental part of these development management systems. They assess the project value and
support the Decision Makers on all major projects.

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DEVELOPMENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM


Development projects usually consist in different project phases. A project phase is generally
concluded with a review of the work accomplished and the deliverables to determine acceptance,
whether extra work is still required, or whether the phase should be considered closed. A management
review can also be held to reach a decision to start the activities of the next phase without closing the
current phase, for example, when the project manager chooses fast tracking as the course of action.
Although some difference in terminology is possible from one company to another, generally
speaking main project phases are:

ProjectPhases
Evaluation

Evaluation, assess the value of the opportunity and the alignment with business strategy based on
preliminary reservoir scenarios and development concepts;

ConceptSelection

Concept Selection, generate concept alternatives, select and optimise the preferred concept based
on technical, economics and risks evaluation;

ConceptDefinition

Concept Definition, refine the selected concept, complete tendering and produces a Project
Execution Plan which allows Project sanction;

Execution

Execution, execute the project, to achieve a fully operating system meeting cost, time and quality
targets;

Commissioning,StartupandPerformanceTest

Commissioning, start-up and performance test, start-up, operate and evaluate the asset to
maintain performance and maximum return to shareholders..

ThePhaseReview
The review which is generally performed at the end of a project phase gives the access to a Gate,
that is an intermediate decision point, when the management decides whether the project can progress
or not.

Evaluation

G Concept
Selection

Concept
Definition

Commissioning,
Start up and
Over
Performance
Test

G ExecutionHand

While the decision making process looks at the overall project lifecycle to understand its value, gate
approval commits funding and resources for the following project phase.

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At the Gates, the Project Team presents to the Management the results obtained during the previous
phase and their plans for the following phase; these data are evaluated and decisions on if and how to
afford the next project phase are taken. The Gate process has 5 possible outcomes:

Proceed: the project has met the approval criteria;

Rework: the performed work is insufficient to support the recommendation;

Hold: the project is viable, but not immediately;

Change: the project can be made more viable by changing the scope;

Kill: the project is not viable nor it will be in the future.

TheImportanceofGates
This process demonstrated to really improve the effectiveness of capital investments, because it
ensures both an appropriate level of control and value improvement. Gates set the overall objectives
of each project phase, properly assess the project and identify value drivers, risks and uncertainties
prior to committing to major expenditure.
The phase objectives drive the identification of the necessary project activities and the activity results
are documented in specific project deliverables, which support the decision making process at the
gate.

DecisionMaking
The internal decision-making process at gates is intended to be a value-adding process through:

Ensuring that investment decisions are made in a comprehensive and consistent manner;

Considering all elements of a Project (e.g. technical, environmental, commercial) when making
decisions;

Providing uniformity and transparency of decision-making criteria across all Development


Projects.

AccesstoGates
Moreover, only proved and realistic value-adding projects are progressed, ensuring the best utilization
of Company resources.
This makes it easier for projects either to maintain or improve their stated targets. Projects
improvements can be detected at an early stage and action measures can be put in place.
The number of mandatory end-of-phase gates to be held during Development Projects may vary from
1 to 3 and depends on the specific Project Typology.

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The access to a gate can be made following the preparation of the corresponding Decision Support
Packsge (DSP) or the execution of a Project Value Assurance Review (AR).

DecisionSupportPackage(DSP)

The Decision Support Package (DSP) is a set of deliverables summarizing the key Project
information required to support the decision-making process at gates. The DSP is the key to
the gate. Its purpose is to provide sufficient information to decision makers on:

The Projects completeness. Have all the activities been performed? Have the necessary
deliverables been produced?

The Project robustness. Have all the critical issues been considered and properly
managed?

The Projects readiness. Is the Project ready to proceed immediately once approval has
been obtained? Are the right strategies, organisations, processes and systems in place, to
ensure a successful completion of the next phase?

AssuranceReview(AR).
Assurance Reviews (AR) are structured, independent reviews that challenge the Project Team to
justify the conclusions of their work, identifying weaknesses and shortcomings, and making specific
recommendations for improvements. They introduce additional outside perspectives in order to
increase potential project value and allow the project to avoid the risk of missing opportunities for
improving technical and business solutions.
The AR takes a detailed look at different aspects of the Project and challenges the Project Team to
demonstrate that these have been optimised (changes and improvements should be agreed on as a
result of the process).
An AR is performed by team-independent groups, including experts, Project Partners representatives,
etc. Most of the reviews performed in projects executed in Joint Venture (JV) are performed by
Review Teams consisting of experts from the Company's part of the JV.
Review results are presented to and discussed with the Project Team in order to agree on
improvement actions.
The decisional process at Gates is mainly supported by the issue of recommendations and conclusions
that arise during the reviews performed by multidisciplinary, independent, expert teams before
accessing the gates.
This practice is a very useful tool to assure the value of projects and the project governance on
projects that constitute a high risk level from both a technical and economical point of view, such as
projects in the oil & gas industry.
In addition to end of phase gates, there may be specific cases where intermediate decision events
within Project phases are required if circumstances justify such an event and if the associated risk has
been identified and accepted (e.g. decisions for anticipating the procurement of long-lead items, or

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scheduled investment decisions required by contractual commitments with Partners and/or


Governments, occurring before the end of a phase).

PROJECT REVIEW TYPOLOGIES


A Project review is an activity undertaken to determine the suitability, adequacy and effectiveness of
the subject matter to achieve established objectives.

TheImportanceofValueReview
Value assurance is a process that aims at providing the Project Team with assurance and assistance at
critical decision points, through a process of support, independent challenge and review. Value
assurance is particularly important because Development Projects are capital intensive with long term
returns.
The higher is the Project importance, both in terms of Company financial exposure and in terms of
strategic relevance and risk, the more the Project can benefit from Reviews monitoring.
Value Assurance may help the Project Team to:

Identify opportunities for value creation.

Control Project performances

Suggest possible improvements

Solve technical problems

TheValueManagementPlan
Project Reviews are managed through a structured high level document: the Value Management Plan.
The Value Management Plan defines the projects commitment to Assurance activities for the next
phase. It contains at least the following information:

Number, timing and duration of Assurance Checks for the next phase. Plan rationale.

Scope and objective of each Assurance check: preliminary Terms of Reference, competencies
requested, expected outcome.

It may include also plans for other value management activities, such as, the decision making process,
Value Improving Practices, etc.
The Value Management Plan should be produced before the end of each project phase and added to
the corresponding DSP together with available Value Assurance Activity reports delivered during the
phase.
Reviewvs.Audit
A review is substantially different from an audit that is a systematic, independent and documented
process for obtaining audit evidence and evaluating it objectively to determine the extent to which
audit criteria are fulfilled. A review is an activity undertaken to determine the suitability, adequacy
and effectiveness of the subject matter to achieve established objectives

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TypesofProjectReview
There are different types of project reviews, having different objectives, different durations, and being
applied at different times in the project. Here below we illustrate the most frequently used types of
Project Reviews.

AssuranceReview:
Assurance Reviews (ARs) are independent reviews examining all the aspects of a Project before
accessing a gate, although additional ARs could be also required for Pre-execution Investment and/or
major Project Changes.
Assurance Reviews need to focus mainly on those aspects of the project that require most attention.
ARs take a broad view of the Project before a gate and provide assurance and assistance both to the
Project Team and to the Decision Makers. This allows at least the following:

Project Team and the Decision Makers to take both assistance and assurance from AR Team
recommendations;

The Project Team to be more confident in accessing the gate and committed to action for
achieving the improvement points.

The Decision Making process to be more effective benefiting from different qualified view points
and more efficient through focus on recommendations and critical issues.

Examination of all the aspects before accessing a gate.

Moreover an AR:

Tests the Project Teams technical and strategic recommendations against Decision Makers
needs and expectations;

Provides external challenge to the Project Team at each key decision stage;

Helps to assess the validity and robustness of the work done and the key areas that require
attention;

Assists in maximising the value of the opportunity;

Appraises the readiness of any Project to proceed into its next stage, including soundness for
capital allocation;

Facilitates best practice transfer into the Project Team;

Captures lessons learned for dissemination across the other Projects;

Verifies that HSE and Quality requirements are satisfied.

ARs could last from a few days to one or two weeks, depending on Project category and phase.

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The independent review team is usually a multidisciplinary team that should integrate different types
of expertise: economics, technical, HSE and Quality, local business, etc. They should check that the
Project meets Stakeholders needs and evaluate project readiness to proceed to next Phase.
The broad focus of the review is to stimulate feedback, creating learning opportunities and identifying
possible recommendations. They look in detail at different projects aspects and challenge the Project
Team to demonstrate that these have been optimised and assess the project robustness identifying
weaknesses and making specific recommendations for improvements.
They confirm that the current phase has been completed in accordance with objectives and is
consistent with Company requirements, ready to proceed to the next phase and assess the suitability of
future plans and strategies.
At the end of each AR, an Assurance Review report is delivered and added to the corresponding
Decision Support Package, together with the Project Teams resolutions of outstanding issues
addressed by the AR team (response to AR). This report contains a summary of the AR findings and
conclusions, including any areas of weakness and gaps requiring further focused attention.

ProgressAssuranceReview
PAR is a specific type of assurance review carried out on projects with a long execution phase.
PARs are intended to provide confidence that the development project is meeting its objectives and
make specific recommendations that will positively contribute to the project efforts.
The main objective of these assurance reviews is to examine project activities, deliverable and events
which, collectively, provide confidence in the following:

That the performance requirements are being satisfactorily progressed during implementation

That the key project risks are clearly identified and mitigation plans are being properly managed

The adequacy and the correct application of project management systems, processes and
resources for technical activities, HSE, close-out of findings

The needs of a PAR on a Strategic/Significant Project are planned yearly between the Project Team
and the PAR Team Leader.
The PAR is carried out, as a rule, during the Execution phase, analyzing on-site project structure,
organization, cost, timing and contracts status, identifying critical situation, the relevant causes and
possible mitigation/corrective/improvement actions, involving all major technical/functional areas.
The PAR Team, before performing the visit on site, performs a preliminary analysis of the Project
based on Project Documentation available and information deriving from past Review activities. This
analysis is aimed at verifying project status and to define critical areas.
A PAR is usually carried out through analysis and verification of technical/functional areas defined by
the PAR Project Team through meetings, document review and survey performed to Head Quarter
Project Team, local Project Team, site and contractors main offices/workshop.
This analysis should lead to the identification of critical situations and associated causes, finalising
relevant findings.
A preliminary feedback report is issued to summarize PAR results; this is discussed before issuing a
final Feedback Report with Action Plan.

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The scope of these ARs includes:

The control of physical progress, spending, costs and schedule;

Progress in the contractual aspects of project implementation;

The close out of outstanding issues from AR3;

The implementation of management systems to ensure maintenance of the integrity of the


facilities during the design, construction, installation, commissioning, and operational phase of
the project;

A statement of conformance to operations and maintenance requirements;

An account of progress towards operational readiness and assurance for production operations
and maintenance;

The well execution plan and its interaction with reservoir performance.

The review team should make recommendations to improve project performance, to update the
Project Execution Plan and provide validation of the revised cost and schedule outlook by
examination of systems, resources, conformance to plans, risk tolerability and operability criteria.
These ARs should be held either periodically (e.g. once/twice a year) or before important project
execution milestones, such as: before wells execution, before construction or installation, before
commissioning and handover to production.

PeerReview
Peer Reviews (PR) are recommended independent reviews examining specific Project activities or
work steps to assure appropriate quality. There are no mandatory PRs.
The need for PRs should be defined at the pre-gate AR for the following phase, where the review
group will establish their scope and timing by mutual agreement with the Project Team.
Peer Reviews usually have narrower terms of reference than ARs, and cover the role of an
intermediate validation point within a phase.

PeerAssist
A Peer Assist (PA) is an activity in which experienced internal or external professionals with
appropriate levels of expertise will suggest improvement points, will challenge and verify work in
progress.
PAs are requested by the Project Team to identify and remedy Project gaps with value-enhancing
contributions, further technical expertise or specific know-how.
The PAs are usually of a technical nature only, often single discipline and are usually required at an
interim stage of a study.

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HOW TO PREPARE A PROJECT REVIEW


RoleoftheProjectTeamPreparation
A Project Review is called and prepared by the Project Team.
Usually the project schedule already includes tentative dates of next reviews, which have been
planned in the Value Management Plan presented in the previous DSP. When the project is
approaching the end of the phase, the Project Team starts to prepare the Decision Support Package.
This package should clearly state and demonstrate the results obtained during the phase that is
concluding, describing the activities performed, afforded criticalities, technical studies. But the DSP
should also contain strategies, objectives and requests for the approaching phase. In a very strict
synthesis the Project Team present the project to the Management stating what they are planning to
do, and what resources are required (budget, time, manpower).
The Review Team is independent, which means not involved in the project. They do not know the
project, its difficulties and criticalities and what has been performed up to that moment. The DSP is a
tool to let the Review Team understand how they can really add value to the project. For this reason is
very important to prepare a clear and exhaustive DSP.
As soon as the DSP preparation has reached a good level, the Project Manager contacts the Review
Team Leader to agree the review date. A short document called Terms of Reference is produced. This
includes a short description of the project, the review objectives, the suggested composition of the
review team, a tentative agenda, and the logistics.
Based on the Terms of Reference, the Review Team leader starts to organize the event.
Some project deliverables are made available to the review team before the actual session in order to
enable project background understanding and main review topic framing.
This pre-reading documentation should contain relevant project deliverables such as Project
Execution Plan, Basis of Design, reports from previous reviews, etc. so that the review team can gain
an understanding of project status.

HOW TO EXECUTE A PROJECT REVIEW


TheRoleoftheReviewTeamExecution
Project Reviews are executed by a dedicated team. The team usually comprises a team leader and a
variable number of team members.
The Team Leader plays a key role; he is external to and independent of the project, he should have a
substantial previous experience of reviews, he is part of the senior staff with a broad knowledge and
experience of typical key driver issues (technical, commercial, etc.) coordinates and ensures progress
of the review, cooperates in selection of review team members, keep the project team informed,
promotes a collaborative atmosphere and collects best ideas.
The number and type of team members depends on the nature, size and vulnerability of the project
phase being reviewed.

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They should be external to and independent of the project. Composition and competencies of the
review team vary according to the focus of the review. However the team should always include
individuals capable of reviewing from global perspectives and with reference to typical key drivers
(economical, commercial, etc.)
They contribute to the execution of the review and ensure integration of their views with views of the
other team members.
TheReviewProcess
A Project Review is executed following a specific process, which includes:

Pre-event step (preparation of the pre-reading material, review organization and logistics);

Execution step which includes:

1.
Information: align review team with process and rules; carry out presentations and interviews;
share project documentation.
2.
Development: review documentation, identify relevant themes; carry-out in depth interviews;
draw conclusion for identified theme; draft preliminary theme report
Drawing of finding & recommendations: integrate developed theme identifying: priorities and
interconnections; discuss and check most relevant findings with the project team; revisit and
adjust findings and prioritise recommendations; produce final report.

Post-execution step which includes:

Close-out: present final report; define action plan.

TheSAVEProcess
This process is in line with the process described for a Value Study in the Value Management SAVE
Body of Knowledge. It is a tested and common way of proceeding and it guarantees the exhaustive,
correct and comprehensive development of the event.

PROJECT REVIEW REPORT


A Project Review report usually includes a short background of the project, a summary of the review
results and the detail of both findings and recommendations.
Recommendations represent the core content of an AR Report. They are usually shared with the
Project Team before being presented to the Gate and, at the end of review activities, the AR Team
should not only state them but also evaluate them in terms of:

Importance: the potential impact of issue

Urgency: how quickly they need to be solved

Importance is evaluated on a three point scale:

High importance: potential to significantly impact achieving project objectives

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Medium importance: potential for significant value erosion through schedule, costs, reserves,
or revenue

Low importance: potential for value erosion

A three-point scale usually utilized for the evaluation of urgency is:

High urgency: before (e.g. before proceeding to the next phase)

Medium urgency before (e.g. before the next AR)

Low urgency before (e.g. before project start up

Illustrations
Here below an example illustrates how recommendations arose from an AR are classified:
Prioritized recommendations
Importance

Importance

High: Potential to significantly impact

achieving project objectives

Medium: Potential for significant value

erosion (>5% NPV)

Low: Potential for minor value erosion

(<5% NPV)

Urgency

M
H
Urgency

High: Before Gate 2 (1Q 2007)


Medium: Before Gate 3 (1Q 2008)
Low: Before Start up Production (1Q

2011)

A Total of 35 recommendations are made, 21 of which are of


High Urgency

CONCLUSIONS
The process of Project Reviews is clearly described by international standards such as PMI Body of
Knowledge and SAVE methodology for Value Management is very similar.
Moreover this process is widely applied by all major Oil & Gas Companies and has been followed for
many years.
This is due to real and tangible results leading to a more efficient project management practice. The
use of Project Reviews allows documenting periodically project objectives, project activities and
results. The statement and discussion of project targets and plans together with achieved results allow
the issue of recommendations focusing on criticalities and their possible solutions creating a
continuous improvement process. The application of these practices leads to a better allocation of
resources and supports the decision making process.
For all these reasons it is strongly suggested that this system should be applied also to projects outside
the Oil & Gas industry.