Scapa Energy Strengthens its Core Team

Scapa Energy is delighted to welcome William MacInnes and Bryan Cousland who have recently joined our core team. This addition will significantly enhance our capability to meet continued growth of our independent assurance services.

William joins us in the role of Operations Manager. William has extensive experience in both upstream and downstream oil and gas operations management, spanning a wide range of technical, operational, leadership, advisory and project roles throughout the life of field cycle. William has held senior positions within operator and service companies including BP, INEOS, ADIL, Schlumberger and CNOOC. He has an impressive track record of influencing performance improvement in HSE, Process Safety, Cost and Production Efficiency.


Bryan joins the team in the role of Principal Consultant, and he brings with him a fantastic set of skills and experiences. His key strengths are HSE Management, Investigation Management, Leadership Coaching and Assurance. Bryan most recently worked with BP and has previously spent many years as a regulator and Principal Inspector with the Health and Safety Executive. He is passionate about the human and behavioural aspects of performance and how this influences safe operations.

William and Bryan’s experiences will be a great addition to the existing core team strength. We look forward to working with them through our next phase of growth.

Closing the Loop

Learning and Feedback

You will be familiar with many organisational learning and improvement models, such as Plan-Do-Check-Act and the related ISO Management Frameworks.

In theory, these models all have their merit.

What do your own experiences tell you? Are you confident that your organisation learns from events, incidents, audit, assurance?

From our experiences we see the most significant challenge and opportunity is effectively connecting all the elements to close the loop.

The feedback loops essential for connecting the various parts of the organisational system often get stuck. Senge’s ‘The Fifth Discipline’ provides great insight to the importance of effective feedback and reflecting on actual performance.


Scapa Energy Assessment Model

At Scapa Energy, we use a practical framework to assess and help improve overall performance of Operators to manage Major Accident and High Hazard Hazard risk;

It starts with effective leadership. Setting expectations and setting a healthy context for teams to operate is essential.

Managing high hazardous operations requires aware, competent and experienced teams. A strong management framework and clear procedures that are followed in practice must be in place.

We need to contain hazardous fluids through effective hardware, maintenance and integrity management controls.

This all must be done with effective co-ordination, planning and communication.

Audit and assurance must be effective, incident investigation must assess systemic issues.

And finally, closing the loop requires tangible action with leadership commitment.

If these interconnected elements are in place and working effectively, there is a powerful reinforcing feedback loop.

Conversely, if any one of these elements or their connections are not working performance will be affected. This could be for example;

  • Ineffective learning from audits and incidents. This could be influenced by audit or investigation effectiveness, or by inadequate communication of learning, and ineffective management of actions.
  • Actions that are not clear, or not part of an overall improvement strategy
  • Not checking in at the right times to ensure improvement actions are making the right impact

Using the Model in our Practice

The Scapa model has proved effective for a range of activities, for example;

  • Assessing overall Operator capability to meet regulatory requirements, including ‘Regulation 5’ Audits
  • Independent audit and assurance activities of Operational Risk Management Controls, Integrity Management or Competence Management
  • Assessing the effectiveness of Performance Management
  • Independent investigations, or peer review of operator investigations
  • Developing operator and duty holder strategic improvement plans
  • Leadership coaching in an MAH context

It is our aim to create valuable insight that creates purposeful action using these approaches. In turn, these actions improve performance and reduce the risk of unplanned events.

The UK Regulator understand the importance of effective monitor, audit and review. They have recently published Inspection Guidance (available from Expect the HSE to include this topic in upcoming inspection activity.

OGUK have also published industry guidance to help operators get organised for effective internal assurance ( This provides a flexible toolkit to help operators design and implement internal assurance activities.

If you are interested in discussing how Scapa Energy can support you to manage risk and improve performance, just drop a note to any of the team.

You may also be interested in reading our recent post on our Remote Working Engagement Model (


Featured image: ‘Ascending and Descending’, M.C. Escher, 1960

Remote Resilience

Groundhog Day?

Well, it’s more or less a year since we all had to make major adjustments to our daily lives. Little did any of us believe we would still be working with our lives significantly restricted by the continued fight against Covid-19.

All this is a minor inconvenience when we think of the millions of people who have been infected, severely ill, or sadly passed because of this modern disaster.

In the context of our daily work, everyone I know has embraced these circumstances with humility, professionalism, and of course a little light-heartedness to keep us smiling. We are all now pretty much expert on Teams and the more adventurous among us have built a nice collection of background themes, including borrowing sets from Star Wars…


Source: Star Wars Backgrounds

Thankfully the industry’s control rooms are not quite like this. Thinking of the dedicated site-based teams and those supporting them, they have shown great resilience to maintain safe operations whilst minimising Covid-19 risks and delivering on business results. This has indeed been an arduous and unrelenting challenge.

Innovation by Necessity

We are also not in a Groundhog Day scenario. Individuals, teams and organisations have innovated and adapted remarkably well.

In my previous post, I talked of two key questions;

  • How long will the Covid-19 tail be i.e. how long will the impact on working patterns persist?
  • What structural changes will be introduced, or remain in place, for the foreseeable future?

I think the first question is answered. This will be a very long tail.

On the second question, I can only talk directly to Scapa Energy experiences. We quickly adapted our way of working, which has also created positive outcomes in surprising ways.

Before Covid, our business activities were driven by face-to-face engagement – at site locations, at our client’s offices, and in our own offices. When this came to a juddering halt, we very quickly developed and implemented a remote assurance process.

This remote approach required us to;

  • Be more stringent with planning and co-ordination with our clients
  • Prepare more rigorous Terms of Reference and pre-engagement question sets
  • Request the client to complete these question sets before engagement discussions
  • Embrace remote working technology
  • Apply Systems Thinking from a remote perspective


Scapa Energy Remote Engagement Process©


This provided structure to work remotely. We recognise this wasn’t a substitute for ‘boots on the ground’. But after successful delivery of this approach for close to a year, we have found;

  • Clients are better prepared by reviewing and responding to the question sets
  • Client engagements are more focussed  during the engagement and there are less distractions
  • More focussed analysis of information and documents through pre-read and screen-share
  • More thorough data analysis with provision of remote access to software applications
  • Using remote communications is not a barrier to active engagement
  • Our principles of partnering with clients to reduce risk and improve performance continue to be met

Collectively, these benefits bring an overall value-add that we had not anticipated.


We have seen these benefits in the range of remote independent assurance services we provide, for example;

  • Safety Case Regulation 5 Audits
  • Offshore focussed Control of Work Audits
  • Maintenance Effectiveness Review
  • Process Integrity Audits
  • Technical Professional Competence Assessments (West Africa)
  • Independent Incident Investigation

These services also provide a key option to meet regulator and industry expectations, reinforced with the recently published OGUK Assurance Toolkit (

Scapa Energy are grateful for the ongoing support from our existing and new clients to enable the delivery of these range of remote services. This has not been possible without the resilience and professionalism of the Scapa Energy team.

We have already committed to maintaining a mixed blend of delivery, getting the best of both worlds as we move into a state of new normal.


Featured image: ‘Bright Side’, courtesy Michael Luinig (

Clients, Capability and Covid-19

Covid-19 Tsunami

The energy industry was in good shape: operators were investing in major projects and acquisitions. There was a good degree of optimism for a period of growth and stability.

How many of us working in this sector truly foresaw how Covid-19 would sweep over us in a tsunami of health and economic destruction in a devastating few weeks?

Until a few weeks ago, Scapa Energy was quietly pleased with the progress we were making with growing the business.  We have consolidated our core independent assurance services and strengthened internal capability. We have seen significant benefit from establishing a new Aberdeen office in 2019. This created a great collaboration space, allowing us to be closer to our clients. We started doing business with a range of new clients, including Premier Oil, Serica Energy and Tullow Oil.

We have been fortunate to continue with a number of current assignments providing regulatory, HSE, Operations and Transition Management support. Planned assignments such as independent competence assessments in West Africa, a management system audit in Indonesia and a range of major accident hazard focussed audits in the UK will now mostly be done later this year or possibly next year.

The New Normal

To adapt is to survive. This is very much the motto for many of us. Adapting to the low oil price. Adapting to remote working. Offshore installations adapting to social-distancing as best they can. Adapting to being more creative to support clients and adapting to what is now being called the ‘new normal’.

As an example of adaptation, Scapa recently trialled a remote audit process with one of our key clients. This forced more focus and effort in the planning and pre-engagement phase that required the company being audited to prepare up-front written responses. These responses, coupled with breaking the engagements down into smaller sessions, resulted in a very effective outcome.

An associate asked me this week what the ‘new normal’ really means. The key questions that came to my mind were;

  • How long will the Covid-19 tail be i.e. how long will the effects persist for in terms of control measures?
  • What structural changes will be introduced, or remain in place, for the foreseeable future?

These pose both a short and a long term outlook. At least in the short term we can be pretty certain there will be extremely low levels of business travel. There will be significantly reduced office density and sustained home-working practices. Thanks to powerful platforms like Teams, Skype and Starleaf, this has probably been much easier that perhaps thought. Perhaps the image above has some common themes with your home workstation!

In the longer term, and once the threat fades, will we ‘revert to type’ or make structural changes, such as permanent remote working policies, strict travel policies and changed behaviours? And what does this mean for the basic functioning of teams, how they maintain relationships, and how leaders support and influence?

Threat and Opportunity

It has also focussed our minds on our own way of working and forced us to challenge our business model. When the present crisis unfolded, almost in slow motion, I set out clear goals to help prioritise our next steps. This thinking can be seen in the graphic below at a high level.

Source application:

As well as the immediate goals of protecting the business and increasing our resilience, it is also important to explore what new opportunities might come about. We have improved our internal ‘way of working’, successfully trialled a new approach to remote assurance and used remote-working technology to best effect.

We will continue to explore new ideas, including the sectors we work in, our ways of working and the services we offer. For example, new visual tools for incident investigation, and building on our site leadership coaching framework.

Of course, the most important input to what we do is our client feedback. We will always seek and respond to all our client feedback and suggestions. Please contact us anytime for a chat (

Finally, and from a personal perspective, the reduced level of activity has allowed me to reacquaint with some personal interests. I am a little fitter and the garden is in the best shape it has been in for a long time. I hope that you have also managed to re-discover things that may have been neglected for too long. And most important of all, stay safe and healthy.


Featured image:“Working Table” reproduced with kind permission from Mattias Adolfsson; source:

Scapa Energy News

What’s New with Scapa Energy

Scapa Energy is very pleased to continue our organic growth over the last year with existing and new clients. This provides a clear indicator there is a continued demand for independent assurance across all aspects of oil and gas, and other high hazard industries.

We strongly believe in taking a different approach to what we do. We embrace complexity in the various domains we operate in, recognising that by taking a systems approach, key insights and barriers to effective performance become clear, whether it is people, culture, ways of working, or technology. This in turn instils deep organisational learning.

The positive feedback from our clients reinforces the value this approach can provide.


New Clients, New Work

We started working closely with Spirit Energy throughout 2018 after carrying out an initial small assignment. Following a detailed gap analysis, Spirit has now adopted a similar major accident hazard assurance framework to that already adopted by other clients. This comprises a range of focussed audits covering major accident hazard topics and includes a high degree of engagement with site-based personnel as well as key decision-makers. Our analysis is strongly based on actual practices, and recommendations are targeted towards realistic interventions that influence front line performance and assure regulatory compliance.

As part of this framework, we have also completed detailed ‘Regulation 5’ audits for our clients. This is a key UK regulatory requirement which places a duty on field operators, and other equity partners, to ensure that outsourced duty holder contractors are effectively meeting their obligations as an installation operator under the Safety Case Regulations.

Scapa Energy has also recently started working with Apache North Sea. They are planning the implementation of a new Control of Work software application. Apache wanted to gain a deep understanding of front-line practices to ensure that any organisational issues did not impact the successful roll out before committing to the technical implementation of the new software. We worked closely with Apache to develop the scope and completed a series of site visits to build a picture of common themes and issues. These findings were incorporated into tangible improvement actions, fully aligned with the software implementation programme.


New Areas of Assurance

Assurance is essential not only for ongoing operations, but for major investments such annual shutdown/ turnaround programmes or major projects. We believe the same principles of systems methods, front-line engagement and leadership participation provides a powerful combination.

Adopting our core principles, we are now providing a range of project and shutdown management assurance services, including Shutdown Lessons Learned Reviews, Shutdown Risk Management services and Critical Path Scenario Planning for a major subsea project. This work has significantly contributed to de-risking these projects.

New Office, New Consultants, New Website

To continue our growth plans, we have acquired new office space in the centre of Aberdeen. This will allow us to work more closely with our client base and provides a central space for our team of consultants to meet and collaborate, as well as an alternative venue for client engagement.  The office is located at 7 Victoria Street.

To support the increased level of work, we have increased the size of our team. These new consultants bring with them a diverse range of operational, regulatory and management experience. What brings us together is our shared passion for reducing risk, improving performance and bringing tangible value to each of our clients.

Finally, we also have completed a major website refresh. Have a look to find out more about what we do and who we work with. You can find us at

If you are interested in discussing in more detail what we do, how we can help you, or if you are interested in working with us, we would be delighted to hear from you. Please contact, or