The Future Of HAZOP Is……Hybrid

The view from the early part of the 21st century is that private fuelled personal transport will move increasingly towards the battery electric format and dramatically away from the conventional hydrocarbon fuel types. There are several reasons for this, a significant one being combatting green-house gas emissions. Indeed, in the 3 years from 2018, new UK registrations of conventional cars has declined from 93 to 54% of the total and at the same time electric has moved from 1 to 12%. The reason these yearly numbers don’t total 100% is that a third category exists and is currently flourishing (up from 6 to 34% of new registrations). This is partly because, both conventional and electric cars have benefits, but also significant drawbacks and a hybrid approach (a combination of battery and internal combustion engine) allows an optimisation to be pursued in the short to medium term.

Over the same period (pre-, during and post-COVID) we have seen, for a different reason, a dramatic shift away from the vast majority of HAZOPs being held in one location (conventional) to a mixture of conventional, fully remote and hybrid. Doing a straw poll on myself, prior to the COVID 19 pandemic, only 5 of the 100+ PHAs I had chaired were partially remote or hybrid, the remainder being fully f2f. Since the first imposition of movement restrictions in March 2020, the numbers are: 1 conventional, 4 fully remote (all participants joining by Zoom or Teams) and 15 hybrid.

HAZOP is currently enjoying a halcyon moment. The current and likely medium term future demand for high hazard processing plants is extremely strong, driven by high hydrocarbon prices, energy transition, new technologies etc. Thankfully (and perhaps a little surprisingly) HAZOP has become embedded in our process engineering design culture, so will be an integral part of this trend.

My instinct is that hybrid HAZOPs will remain the main stay approach for the foreseeable future. However, the benefits and drawbacks of both f2f and fully remote need to be understood so that the future, which is hybrid, can indeed be bright.