Put More Science into Cost Risk Analysis

At the 2010 Palisade Risk Conference in London, John Zhao of Statoil used a mock cost estimate contingency model to demonstrate how @RISK simulation functions can yield a more realistic project contingency through integrated qualitative risk assessment and quantitative risk analysis.

While future oil prices may be hard to predict due to low manageability, it is absolutely possible to scientifically forecast the sizes of risks that companies are willing to take, and such risks may include the probabilistic volumes of newly discovered reserves, the probability of meeting a project development schedule, chances of project cost overruns, and the likelihood of eroding entire project profitability. To achieve these goals, @RISK has lent a helping hand to business analysts for easier operation of complicated mathematical modelling.

Statoil, an international oil company, takes risk management seriously and has applied Monte Carlo simulation techniques in core and support businesses using @RISK. Such applications not only include the solo use of individual applications, but integrated combinations from drilling, reserve estimation, and well completion to cost and schedule controls at project execution. Besides the widespread uses of the software, Zhao discussed a specific application of @RISK to convincingly simulate required capital project contingency  in detail.

A simplistic line-item ranging exercise using @RISK Monte Carlo simulation is no longer adequate to derive large capital project contingency, as empirical data confirmed that many disastrous cost overrunning projects were lack of contingency to cover the covert risks. In order to show management a complete risk picture on a project, both systemic risks (which empirical history has indicated a likelihood of occurring), and specific risks (which have discrete probabilistic characteristics), should be included in the overall project risk analysis. Therefore the combination of continuous PDF for project cost estimates, and discrete PDF for project risk registers, may prevail and provide management with a more convincing project cost contingency.

John Zhao is Quality and Risk Manager at StatoilHydro Canada Limited. He has 22 years project management experience in the petrochemical industry. He has authored many papers and made numerous presentations worldwide on the subject of risk and contingency management. In the past 10 years, John has developed his expertise in cost engineering and risk analysis for large downstream and oilsands upstream projects across Canada. His extensive knowledge in construction project qualitative risk assessment process has made him an expert on the subject in North America; his proprietary Monte Carlo model using @RISK is a popular tool for project contingency and escalation simulation. The quantitative model that John has built has integrated @RISK with PrecisionTree to help corporations conduct risk-based strategic decision-making.

» View the complete abstract and PDF presentation of "Put More Science into Cost Risk Analysis"
» Read Zhao’s whitepaper, "Put More Science into Quantitative Risk Analysis"

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