The Design Review Process: Enhancing Design Excellence and Potential through Purposeful Steps

Design review process

An oil and gas project’s technical design and engineering aspects are carefully examined in a design review. Its goal is to guarantee that the project adheres to safety standards and is reliable, efficient, and affordable.

An experienced team composed of project managers, design engineers, safety engineers, and other stakeholders conducts the review. It may occur before construction starts, during the conceptual design phase, or at other project stages like those mentioned.

During the review, the team carefully examines the project’s design documentation, which includes engineering drawings, specifications, calculations, and other technical data. They compare the design against relevant standards, regulations, and industry best practices. The team identifies any discrepancies, deviations, or gaps that require attention and recommends necessary improvements.

During a design review of an oil and gas project, several key areas are typically evaluated, including:

  • Process design and flow diagrams: This is the type of review that examines the efficiency and effectiveness of the overall process design, ensuring it meets the project objectives.
  • Equipment selection and specifications: The chosen equipment is evaluated to ensure it aligns with project requirements, such as capacity, performance, and compatibility.
  • Piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs): The P&IDs are examined to verify the accuracy of the system’s layout, equipment connections, and instrumentation.
  • Electrical and control system design: The electrical and control systems are assessed for their reliability, compliance with safety standards, and integration with other project components.
  • Safety and environmental considerations: The review emphasizes the project’s adherence to safety regulations and environmental protection measures, identifying potential hazards and recommending mitigation strategies.
  • Construction and installation requirements: The design’s practicality and feasibility during the construction and installation phases are evaluated, ensuring that the project can be implemented as planned.
  • Project schedule and budget: The review examines the project’s timeline and cost estimates to assess their feasibility and identify any potential risks or constraints.

The primary objective of a design review is to ensure that the oil and gas project design is technically robust, compliant with relevant regulations and standards, and optimized for safety, operational efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. Any identified issues or concerns are addressed and resolved before progressing to the next project stage.

Significance of Design Review: Maximizing Project Quality and Success

Design reviews for oil and gas projects offer several notable advantages, including:

  • Proactive Risk Identification and Mitigation: By conducting design reviews, potential risks and issues can be identified early on, allowing for timely mitigation measures. This proactive approach helps prevent costly rework, delays, and safety incidents during project execution.
  • Compliance with Regulations and Standards: Design reviews ensure that the project design adheres to relevant regulations, standards, and industry best practices. This ensures the project’s compliance, safety, and environmental responsibility.
  • Optimization of Project Performance: Design reviews help identify opportunities to optimize project performance, such as cost reduction, enhanced efficiency, improved operability, and easier maintenance. This leads to more successful and efficient project outcomes.
  • Enhanced Collaboration within Project Teams: Design reviews foster collaboration and communication among the project team, including design engineers, safety engineers, project managers, and stakeholders. This alignment ensures everyone is working towards the same objectives, promoting project success.
  • Improved Stakeholder Confidence: By undergoing design reviews, projects demonstrate a thorough evaluation of the design’s technical soundness, compliance, and performance optimization. This enhances stakeholder confidence in the project’s outcomes and reduces uncertainties.

In conclusion, design reviews play a crucial role in oil and gas projects by providing comprehensive evaluations, mitigating risks, ensuring compliance, optimizing performance, fostering collaboration, and boosting stakeholder confidence.

Decoding the Meaning of Design Review: Evaluating and Enhancing Project Design

Design review is a formal process that involves a thorough appraisal and evaluation of engineering design in oil and gas projects. It aims to assess the design’s suitability and adequacy in relation to relevant codes and standards, constructability, operability, maintainability, local design conditions, inherent safety considerations, and cost efficiency.

It is a crucial step during the detailed design stage of an oil and gas project, often considered a significant milestone in the overall design process. It is planned and executed once the design has reached a sufficient level of development. However, it does not involve checking every technical detail of specific designs or processes. Instead, its primary focus is on identifying any design shortcomings or areas for improvement.

The outcomes of a design review provide valuable recommendations for potential actions to address identified issues or capitalize on improvement opportunities. By conducting design reviews, oil and gas projects can enhance the quality and effectiveness of their engineering design, ultimately contributing to the project’s overall success.

Purpose of Design Review Process

Design review serves multiple purposes and plays a pivotal role in the detail design phase of any project. Its key objectives include:

  1. Ensuring Safety, Feasibility, and Constructability: Design review evaluates the system’s design to ensure it is safe, achievable, constructible, operable, and maintainable, minimizing potential risks and challenges.
  2. Comprehensive Evaluation of Technical Specifications: Design review provides a collaborative platform involving multiple disciplines to assess whether the design aligns with all required technical and project specifications. This ensures the design meets the desired standards and objectives.
  3. Identification and Resolution of Design Problems: Design review aims to identify any potential design issues or challenges and proposes effective solutions to address them, enhancing the overall quality and integrity of the design.
  4. Alignment of Disciplines and Interface Management: By conducting design reviews, all disciplines involved in the project are brought together to ensure alignment and proper coordination. This helps establish essential interfaces and ensures seamless integration between various components.
  5. Upholding Design and Technical Integrity: Design review plays a crucial role in maintaining the integrity of the system’s design and technical aspects throughout the project lifecycle.
  6. Verification of Design Process Effectiveness: The design review process evaluates the effectiveness of the design methodologies and processes employed, ensuring they meet industry standards and best practices.
  7. Comprehensive Review of Design Elements: Design review encompasses a thorough examination of various design elements, including design basis, equipment design and specifications, process hydraulics, design philosophies, hazard situations, shutdown philosophies, and more.
  8. Fulfillment of Optimization, Risk, and Cost Requirements: Design review assesses the design’s optimization potential, risk mitigation strategies, and cost-effectiveness, ensuring these requirements are effectively addressed.

In summary, design review serves as a versatile and essential activity during the detail design phase of a project, encompassing purposes such as safety assurance, compliance with specifications, problem identification and resolution, interdisciplinary alignment, design integrity maintenance, process effectiveness verification, comprehensive design element review, and meeting optimization and cost objectives.

Collaborative Force of the Design Review Team

A successful design review process requires a knowledgeable and well-rounded team. In general, the maximum number of participants is limited to 12 members.Typically, the design review team for oil and gas projects consists of the following key members:

  1. Process Engineer: Bringing expertise in process design and optimization, the process engineer assesses the design from a technical standpoint, ensuring it aligns with project requirements and industry standards.
  2. Control & Automation Engineer: With a focus on control systems and automation, this engineer evaluates the design’s functionality, reliability, and integration of control components.
  3. Operations Representative: Providing valuable input from an operational perspective, the operations representative evaluates the design’s practicality, operability, and potential impact on daily operations.
  4. Technical Safety Engineer: Responsible for safety considerations, the technical safety engineer examines the design for potential hazards, risks, and compliance with safety regulations and standards.
  5. Discipline Personnel: Depending on the specific design elements being reviewed, discipline personnel with relevant expertise contribute their insights and expertise. This may include mechanical, electrical, structural, or other discipline-specific engineers.
  6. External Consultant: A knowledgeable external consultant can bring fresh perspectives and industry insights to the design review process. Their expertise adds value by providing objective recommendations and identifying potential improvements.

It is essential for the design review team to possess a comprehensive understanding of the project, its objectives, and relevant industry practices. Typically, the design review team consists of up to 12 members to ensure effective communication, collaboration, and decision-making during the review process.

By assembling a well-balanced and experienced design review team, oil and gas projects can benefit from diverse perspectives, expertise, and collaborative efforts, ultimately leading to enhanced design outcomes and project success.

Design Review Process

he design review process for oil and gas projects follows a structured approach consisting of the following steps:

Step 1:

Planning – Identify the design review needs, establish a schedule, define requirements, and allocate resources. Appoint a design review leader from the design team to coordinate the process.

Step 2:

Document Preparation – Identify the review deliverables, determine the required review composition, and ensure the issuance of appropriate review documentation.

Step 3:

Initial Discipline Review – Conduct an initial review by relevant disciplines, documenting any issues or concerns that arise and considering their potential impacts. Maintain detailed records of the review.

Step 4:

Design Review Execution – Conduct the design review with the full participation of all relevant parties. Assess the impacts and potential need for technical change proposals. Assign actions and document the proceedings in the Minutes of Meeting.

Step 5:

Action Plan Development – Generate and prioritize design review actions. Review and close out actions upon completion. Track and report on all activities and actions taken.

Step 6:

Follow-up and Verification – Provide updates and feedback on action close-outs to all concerned parties. Obtain agreement from the Project Lead on action close-outs.

Step 7:

Agreed Stage Design Review – Cascade the findings and review for potential change impacts and improvements. Generate the Design Review report and distribute it to the relevant stakeholders.

Step 8:

Close Out – Conclude the design review process, ensuring the satisfactory completion of all actions and obtaining approval from project authorities. Maintain comprehensive records of the entire design review activity.

In summary, the design review process for oil and gas projects involves careful planning, thorough document review, analysis and evaluation, issue identification and reporting, action plan development, follow-up and verification, and a final close-out. This process ensures that the project design meets technical standards, regulatory compliance, and optimization goals for safety, operability, and cost-effectiveness.

Design review process
Design Review Process

Ensuring Design Excellence: A Comprehensive Design Review Checklist

A design review facilitator needs a comprehensive checklist to guide the review process and ensure that all aspects of the facility scope are covered. Here is a human-readable version of a typical checklist for the design review of oil and gas projects:

Design Basis Data:

  • Verify that the design is aligned with the defined design basis, including project objectives, specifications, and performance requirements.

Equipment Design Specifics:

  • Evaluate the design details of equipment, ensuring they meet the required specifications and performance criteria.

Pipeline Hydraulic Data & Slugging:

  • Assess the pipeline hydraulic data and consider slugging effects to ensure proper flow and operational efficiency.

Process Control Narrative (PCN):

  • Review the PCN to verify that the control system design and functionality align with the project requirements.

Safeguarding Philosophy:

  • Evaluate the safeguarding philosophy, ensuring that adequate safety measures are incorporated into the design to protect personnel, assets, and the environment.

Isolation Philosophy:

  • Verify the isolation philosophy to ensure proper isolation of equipment or systems for maintenance and safety purposes.

Operating and Startup Philosophy:

  • Review the operating and startup philosophy to ensure efficient and safe operation of the facility.

Material Selection/Coating/Insulation:

  • Assess the material selection, coating, and insulation specifications to ensure compliance with project requirements and industry standards.

Flare and Relief Systems:

  • Verify the design of flare and relief systems to ensure proper handling of process upsets and emergency scenarios.

Drain Systems:

  • Evaluate the drain systems to ensure effective drainage of fluids from equipment and piping systems.

Corrosion Monitoring:

  • Assess the corrosion monitoring plan to ensure adequate measures are in place to detect and mitigate corrosion issues.


  • Evaluate the design for ease of maintenance, including access to equipment, availability of spare parts, and maintenance procedures.

Tie-in Philosophy:

  • Review the tie-in philosophy to ensure proper integration of new equipment or systems into the existing facility.

Shutdown Requirements and Constructability:

  • Assess the design for phased shutdown requirements and consider the constructability aspects for smooth execution.

Early Tie-in Package:

  • Determine if there is a need for an early tie-in package to facilitate early project milestones or system integration.

Unit Shutdowns, Station Shutdowns, Emergency Shutdowns:

  • Evaluate the design for proper shutdown procedures and emergency shutdown systems.

Fire and Gas Detection Requirements:

  • Verify that the design incorporates adequate fire and gas detection systems for early warning and safety.

Pipeline Arrival/Departure:

  • Assess the design considerations for pipeline arrival and departure points, including alignment with operational requirements.

Equipment and Tie-In Locations:

  • Review the optimal location of equipment and tie-ins to ensure operational efficiency and accessibility for maintenance.

Constructability and Accessibility:

  • Evaluate the design for constructability and accessibility, considering factors such as equipment installation, piping routing, and construction sequencing.

Routing of Roads and Fencing:

  • Verify that the routing of roads and placement of fencing align with safety and operational requirements.

Safety and Required Distances:

  • Assess compliance with relevant specifications and guidelines regarding safety distances between equipment, considering hazardous area classifications.

Location of Escape Gates:

  • Verify that escape gates are appropriately located to ensure personnel safety in emergency situations.

ALARP (As Low As Reasonably Practicable):

  • Assess the design to demonstrate that risks to personnel, assets, environment, and company reputation are minimized to the lowest reasonable level.

By utilizing this comprehensive design review checklist, the design review facilitator can ensure a thorough evaluation of the facility scope, covering critical design aspects and compliance with specifications and industry best practices. This checklist aims to enhance safety, operational efficiency, maintainability, and overall project success.

Design Review Information Pack

To conduct an effective design review, the following project documentation is considered necessary:

Process Design Basis: The process design basis outlines the fundamental requirements and objectives of the design, providing a clear understanding of the project’s scope and goals.

Design Philosophies: Various design philosophies, including process control narrative, control and operating philosophy, safeguarding philosophy, tie-in and shutdown philosophy, and tagging philosophy, provide insights into the design approach and principles.

PFS & P&ID Drawings: Process Flow Scheme (PFS) and Piping and Instrumentation Diagram (P&ID) drawings visually represent the process flow, equipment, and instrumentation details, aiding in the review and understanding of the design.

Plot Plan: The plot plan illustrates the layout and arrangement of equipment, structures, and piping systems within the project site, providing an overview of the physical design.

Design Review Infopack Checklist: The Design Review Infopack Checklist, such as DEM-1/DEM-2 and LFI Screening, ensures that all necessary information and deliverables are included in the review documentation.

Closeout Reports: Closeout reports from previous reviews, including Hazard and Operability Study (HAZOP) and Interdisciplinary Project Findings (IPF), if applicable, offer valuable insights and lessons learned from previous stages of the project.

Hydraulic and Transient Study Reports: Reports from hydraulic and transient studies provide critical information regarding fluid flow, pressure, and system behavior, enabling a thorough evaluation of the design’s hydraulic aspects.

Simulation Model Reports: Simulation model reports, if available, present the results of computer-based simulations used to analyze and optimize the design performance, helping to validate the design approach.

HAC (Hazard and Accident Analysis): Hazard and Accident Analysis (HAC) reports detail potential hazards, risks, and mitigation measures, allowing for a comprehensive review of safety considerations in the design.

C&E (Cause and Effect) Drawings: Cause and Effect (C&E) drawings illustrate the relationship between process inputs and outputs, providing a clear understanding of control and safety functions within the design.

By compiling and reviewing these essential documents as part of the design review information pack, the review team can effectively assess the design’s compliance, performance, safety aspects, and adherence to project requirements, facilitating informed discussions and recommendations for improvement.

Design Review Report: Capturing Insights

he Design Review report serves as a comprehensive record of the study, capturing attendance and actions taken during the review process. While the Design Review Facilitator is primarily responsible for preparing the report, they may delegate this task to the Design Team. The report encompasses several key sections to provide a holistic overview of the design review findings and recommendations. Typically, a Design Review report includes:

  • Executive Summary: A concise summary highlighting the key outcomes, major findings, and recommendations of the design review.
  • Introduction: An introductory section covering the document’s objective, project objectives, project background, and any pertinent contextual information.
  • Design Review Workshop and Boundaries: Details about the design review workshop, including its scope, objectives, and boundaries, to establish the context for the review process.
  • Design Review Team Details: Information about the members of the design review team, their roles, and areas of expertise, ensuring transparency and accountability.
  • Findings from the Design Review Workshop: A comprehensive overview of the findings and observations identified during the design review, including any areas of potential weakness or concern in the design or study.
  • List of Design Review Reference Documents: A list of the reference documents consulted during the review, providing clarity on the sources of information and analysis.
  • Attachments: Supplementary materials that support the design review report, such as attendance sheets, action summary sheets, marked-up P&ID drawings, lists of applicable standards, facilitator’s feedback forms, or any other relevant documentation.

The Design Review report acts as a consolidated source of information, highlighting the quality of the study, priority findings, safety considerations, and unresolved issues requiring further follow-up. By documenting and sharing these insights, the report facilitates effective communication, decision-making, and subsequent actions for design optimization and project success.

Design Review Closeout Report

On completion of the Design Review (DR) actions, a DR close-out report is prepared to provide a comprehensive summary of the action status and transition to the next phase of the design process. This report includes the following key elements:

  • Summary of Action Status: A clear overview of the status of all actions identified during the DR process, indicating whether they have been completed, ongoing, or require further attention.
  • Tracking Sheet and Signed Response: A tracking sheet that shows the agreed-upon action responses and includes scanned copies of the signed responses, ensuring documentation of commitments made.
  • Actions Passed to Next Design Phase: If any actions are to be passed to the next phase of the design, the report documents the action numbers, background information, and reasons for passing them to the next phase. It also outlines the specific actions that the Design Team of the next phase is expected to perform.
  • Incorporation into the Design: The Design Team Process Engineer plays a crucial role in checking that each action has been fully incorporated into the design. This ensures that the necessary changes, improvements, or resolutions have been effectively implemented.

The DR action close-out report serves as a formal record of the status and outcomes of the DR actions, enabling effective tracking, accountability, and knowledge transfer to subsequent project phases. By documenting the close-out of actions and providing clarity on the transition to the next design phase, the report promotes continuity, efficient project progression, and the fulfillment of design requirements.

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