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Risk Analysis and Decision-Making — A Case Study


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Author B Gamble


Solid Energy’s project evaluation process utilises a standard staged gate approach, with five levels leading ultimately to project execution (level 6). For a project to progress through each level, specific financial criteria need to be satisfied. Solid Energy primarily use value based (discounted cash flow) metrics to support investment decisions. Within this approach Solid Energy utilise a number risk-based techniques to quantify project uncertainty. This includes the use of risk-based probabilistic analysis using Monte Carlo simulation and probability-based scenario analysis. Figure 1 shows the net present value (NPV) cumulative probability.

Project risks are identified through comprehensive risk workshops. The output of these workshops (list of key risks, ranges of uncertainty and probability of occurrence), is quantified within the financial models. Incorporating this risk information on a probabilistic basis allows an investment decision to be made with a robust knowledge of the range of possible project outcomes along with the likelihood (probability) of those outcomes occurring, for example 80 per cent confidence that the project value will be greater than NZ$10 M, 50 per cent confident it will be greater than NZ$50 M and ten per cent confident it will be greater than NZ$70 M.

Incorporating risk implicitly into the financial analysis allows the business to easily evaluate/measure projects with different risk profiles. The detailed risk analysis does away with the complexity of arbitrary risk-based hurdle (discount) rates, as projects can be evaluated based on their specific risk characteristics.

Whether a project will progress to the next level of investment and ultimately into implementation depends firstly on the value assessment in comparison with the associated risk/uncertainty, and secondly matching this with the businesses appetite for risk. At Solid Energy standard criteria are used for specific project evaluations, but in addition projects are considered on a portfolio or strategic basis also. Solid Energy attempts to maintain a mix of low risk (low value) projects with some high risk (high value) opportunities. The mix of projects must remain in line with the shareholders’ risk appetite.

One of the keys to a successful investment decision is ensuring that the appropriate information is available to decision-makers so that they may proceed with a comprehensive understanding of the risks and impacts associated with the decision.

Gamble, B, 2007.
analysis and decision-making – a case study, in Proceedings
Evaluation 2007
, pp
Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: