Lessons learned: A key element to continue improving

We set out action plans based on our incidents and claims related to safety, protection of the environment, and our relationship with society. We monitor and assess the efficiency of the actions to be able to respond to these impacts. This enables us to learn from our mistakes and gain opportunities to improve within the organization.

In the area of sustainability, ensuring the safety of people and the environmental protection are the greatest commitments we have at Repsol. That is why we work every day to improve safety in our operations wherever we are, focusing on facilities, processes, and people with a preventive approach to anticipate events.

We have very advanced systems and standards in place, but in addition to maintaining and further improving them, we continue to work on organisational learning.

In order to be successful, it is essential that safety knowledge be shared and reach different areas, businesses, and facilities. Lessons learned are knowledge gained through reflection on an experience or process that could have significant consequences for safety or the environment and which is shared for the sake of continuous improvement and learning.

Keys to a successful lessons learned process

  • Having principles that guide the process and are supported by the leadership
  • Developing clear processes with well-defined roles and responsibilities
  • Ensuring the availability of the best technical resources
  • Developing methods for assessing efficiency
  • Recording lessons learned and integrating them into a broader scope, as appropriate
  • Involving workers, as they are aware of the risks and can provide learnings from our operations

1. Capturing

We continually look for areas of improvement in our research and in our day-to-day operations. Here are some examples:

  • We set up workshops and operational learning teams involving critical areas to reflect on the process and tasks. 
  • We work in industrial complexes to capture lessons from normal operations to analyse possible areas for improvement in a preventive manner through dynamics and cause-analysis tools, even involving the operators' own shifts.
  • Through the CCPS (Center for Chemical Process Safety), we are participating in a project on "Lessons learned years later" that will help us and other companies in the sector to learn from the study of past incidents.
  • IPSG (International Process Safety Group): this is a forum for sharing information about incidents and exchanging knowledge, experiences, techniques, procedures, and special design characteristics — all with the goal of preventing major accidents.


2. Sharing

Lessons learned can be shared in different ways. What is important is that the information reach the target audience it could affect, promoting new ways of getting better communication and feedback from operations.

  • Generating spaces for reflection and discussion, such as our internal incident management software tool, internal forums or collaborative communities between the industrial plants, where the most relevant lessons are debated and we learn from others.
  • Through videos that highlight learning-focused actions and best practices put into place.


3. Learning

At Repsol, we view learning as improvement. A lesson learned implies a change in how we manage safety and requires actions that ensure that this learning is continue over time and is reflected in the improvement of our safety culture. The role of leaders is fundamental in this process.

Once our lessons have reached their targets, the managers of the business, department, or facility in question must identify preventative action plans. For learning to take place, it is vital to ensure that the actions defined can be implemented as quickly as possible and that both their effectiveness and the learning process itself are assessed regularly. For example:

  • In our Synergi incident management software tool, we have a lessons learned module used by several of the businesses and actions can be recorded for follow-up. 
  • The Industrial area is working on building a process to speed up the incorporation of the best practices identified in the Communities of Practice and areas of collaboration in our operational processes, through the figure of the senior technical advisor, who has the skills and recognition to ensure the agility, quality, and cross-company coverage of this process with a global vision and the reputation of their expertise 

Lessons learned examples

Upstream area

In our lessons learned tool, all learning is recorded and prioritised according to the stakeholder group to which it applies. From there, we propose our own actions for the centres or related activities, including the effectiveness of each one.

To support the dissemination of lessons learned, the Upstream business has produced a series of videos to share what we have learned over the past 5 years, including lessons that reinforce our basic safety rules.

All videos include a description of the lesson and a section with actions arising from the lesson, for example: *Dropping objects: on a sliding drill rig, a side plate of one of the thrust jacks became detached. The lesson is available in the database and has been shared among operators and contractors globally and verified locally in similar installations.

Lessons learned from this event by all Exploration & Production business units:

  • Ensure that preventive maintenance and inspection routines are based on equipment failure modes and that they are well understood with their associated risks. Be especially aware of the static structural elements that are only subject to inspection, but are critical to the functionality of the equipment.
  • Ensure that user manuals and training material for the operation of the equipment are available and that a good description of the functionality of the equipment is included. This will help the operator of the equipment to better understand the risks involved.
  • Identify and be aware of the limitations and design loads of all equipment. Ensure this is included in any operational procedures.
  • Ensure that the design of the equipment is not such that the operator is endangered in any failure mode.


Downstream Area

In the downstream area, we also apply the lessons learned over the years. We believe it is necessary to continue fostering a culture of transparency that encourages communication, the consideration of human factors in incidents, and the improvement of mechanisms for implementing improvement actions.

An example of a lesson learned was the consequences of a pump casing bleed rupture in the industrial area. A learning-by-doing exercise has been carried out at all sites in this area:

  • Verify that the material of the supplied accessories is of equal or superior quality to the pump casing material requested in the requirement.
  • Verify that all documentation (in the different phases of selection, supply and assembly) reflects these qualities.
  • Verify, for all existing pumps in the plant, that corrosion cannot occur due to the quality of the materials already installed.
  • In pump or accessory maintenance operations, report material failures for analysis and correction.