A standard consists of technical definitions and guidelines that function as instructions for designers and manufacturers as well as operators and users of equipment. A code is a standard that has been adopted by one or more governmental bodies and is enforceable by law. A standard tends be a more detailed elaboration, the nuts and bolts of meeting a code. One way of looking at the differences between codes and standards is that a code tells you what you need to do, and a standard tells you how to do it. A code may say that a building must have a fire-alarm system. TThe standard will spell out what kind of system and how it must work.
Professional organizations globally recognize the importance of Codes and Standards and hence devoted significant amount of time into development of Codes and Standards. A case student is American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Codes and Standards for Nigeria
Nigeria has been lacking in development of Codes and Standards even in the Oil and Gas sector which is its mainstay of its economy and where it has more leverages to develop. Therefore, defining codes and standards, that are specifically Nigerian would go a long way in developing the Nigerian oil & gas industry in particular. It would also means entrenching Nigerian participations in both onshore and offshore segment of the industry. The participation, and experience, of Nigerian companies would engender development of Codes and Standards for the country.
Developing Codes and Standards for Nigeria
Will Nigeria have to develop every single one of the codes and standards it requires all from scratch? This would not be necessary as there are already enough codes and standards developed by recognised international Standards Development Organisations (SDOs) such as the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the International Maritime Organization(IMO), that are in use. These can be adapted and adopted for the country as appropriate.
Benefits of Codes and Standards
Defining country standards that are harmonized with International Standards bring technological, economic and societal benefits. They help to harmonize technical specifications of products and services making industry more efficient and breaking down barriers to international trade. Conformity to International Standards helps reassure consumers that products are safe, efficient and good for the environment.
For businesses, International Standards are strategic tools and guidelines to help companies. They ensure that business operations are as efficient as possible, increase productivity and help companies’ access new markets. Other benefits include:
• International Standards help optimise operations and therefore improve the bottom line
• International Standards help improve quality, enhance customer satisfaction and increase sales
• International Standards help prevent trade barriers and open up global markets
• International Standards help increase productivity and competitive advantage
• International Standards help reduce negative impacts on the environment
From a macroeconomic standpoint as well, standardization directly contributes to the growth in the economy. For example in the French economy, a study showed that standardization contributes almost 25% of GDP growth. This is in line with figures for other technological leading countries, such as Germany and the United Kingdom
The major lessons from this study were:
• Company value enhancement.
• Standardization not only promotes the dissemination of innovation without revealing a company’s manufacturing or technological secrets; it also renews the interest for its product.
• Standards contribute to improving compliance with competition rules and facilitate collaboration with other stakeholders.
• Where standards are international in origin, they provide an advantage for developing internationally acceptable products and services.
• Standardization gives companies greater control over safety-related problems, and helps optimize compliance with regulations.
How to Develop Codes and Standards
Standards can run from a few pages to a few hundred pages and are written by professionals who serve on committees. Standards are considered voluntary because they are guidelines and not enforceable by law.
Examples of local SDOs in Nigeria include the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), and so on. While all this organisations may have different approaches to developing standards for their own use, the SON is statutorily charged with being the custodian of standards in Nigeria though it may not necessarily be the one that writes them. Professional associations or industry organisations such as the NSE or its divisions would be best placed to write codes and standards for the industries they operate in.
In developing Nigerian codes and standards that will align with international codes and standards – for example those of the ASME –the standard would need to be
a Suitable for repetitive use. A major requirement of a code or standard is that it can be used time and again.
b Enforceable. A standard’s requirements should be worded so that a person auditing its use or application can point out where it has or has not been followed.
c Definite. Requirements that are too general or contain vague applications instead of workable instructions are impractical and often useless.
d Realistic. Requirements that are unrelated, excessive, or more restrictive than necessary should not be included. A standard that is too restrictive or detailed imposes a burden on both the administrator and user.
e Authoritative. Requirements should be reasonably consistent with current practices and capabilities in the industry, and be attainable for the user.
f Complete. All areas open to question or interpretation (or misinterpretation) should be covered.
g Clear. Express the requirements in easily understood language that is not ambiguous.
h Consistent. Requirements should not be contradictory or incompatible with one another; similarly, the requirements of related and dependent standards should also be consistent.
i Focused. When too much is covered by one standard, its requirements become confusing and the standard becomes less effective; users may be left wondering which parts of the standard apply to their work.
Using Codes and Standards in Globalising the Nigerian Oil & Gas Industry
An estimated 15 – 20% of engineering man-hours are spent on developing project specific specifications for most EPC contracts in Nigeria today. When international oil companies hold clarification meetings with their suppliers, the get the benefit of refining their specifications and ultimately develop better standards for their operations. Indigenous companies are typically not able to spend as much on defining specifications and so may end up with inherently lower quality developments. By having consensus driven Nigerian specifications and standards that are harmonized with international codes and standards, indigenous companies can more easily have access to higher quality standards and start to aspire to compete globally. This will finally make it possible for the oil & gas industry to propel Nigerian companies into a global force to reckon with.
Abridged from “Codes and Standards: An Approach to Globalising the Nigerian Oil & Gas Industry by Engr Seun Faluyi You can download the Full paper HERE Seun Faluyi is Managing Director, Offshore Dimensions Limited, and EPCM based in Lagos.
Offshore Dimensions Limited is a multidisciplinary engineering firm specializing in Engineering Design, procurement and Constructions Management in Oil and Gas sector. It has developed reputation for delivering quality services using Nigerian engineering expertise. It has a firm commitment to Nigerian Local Content plans and has been, from time to time ensuring regular training of its staff to meet the changing engineering landscape. contact them HERE