About the Industry

Hydrocarbon Releases


Hydrocarbon releases (HCRs) are not only potential precursors to major accidents but also a key performance indicator of asset integrity management of offshore installations.

The HCR reporting scheme was set up by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in 1992 in response to one of the Lord Cullen’s recommendations in his report on the Piper Alpha disaster. Hydrocarbon release reports are submitted on Form OIR/12, which are then entered to the HCR System Database maintained by the HSE.

HCRs are classified as major, significant or minor based on their potential to cause a major accident if ignited. More information on the HSE’s HCR severity definition and criteria can be found here.


50% HCR reduction plan

Industry-wide workshops, the sharing of best practice on asset integrity and the development and use of toolkits and guidance documents led to an early period of sustained year-on-year reductions in major and significant HCRs.

Nevertheless, in spite of sustained efforts, progress then plateaued. The total number of HCRs fluctuated between 155 and 190 over a period of around five years, while major and significant HCRs remained in the 60-85 range over a period of around seven years.

At the end of 2010, Step Change in Safety, the industry’s safety initiative, published a target of reducing HCRs by 50% by the end of March 2013, compared with the number of HCRs in 2009/2010. Many operators developed and implemented their HCR reduction plans and shared them across the sector, allowing a 48% reduction over the period targeted.

Find out more about the efforts to reduce the number of hydrocarbon releases here



Hydrocarbon Release Reduction Toolkit: Produced by Step Change in Safety, this toolkit contains good practice techniques to assist operations in reducing HCRs.

Supplementary Guidance on Reporting Hydrocarbons: Aids the industry in reporting HCRs.

Fire and Explosion Guidance: Updated by Oil & Gas UK and HSE in 2007, this guidance provides information on the prevention, control and mitigation of fires and explosions from hydrocarbon releases on offshore platforms.


Industry HCR Data

The industry HCR data is available at the links below, starting with Q2 2011 verified data. Data is updated on a quarterly basis one quarter in arrears to allow adequate time for reporting, investigation and verification of data.