Trust is crucial to the Norwegian regime, with its emphasis on performance-based regulations, giving responsibility to the players, and risk- and dialogue-based supervision.
Confidence is a cornerstone
Companies receive licences for petroleum activities in Norway on condition that they accept independent responsibility to operate safely – and work actively for continuous safety improvements.
The licensing system gives government an important management tool, which helps with qualifying and systematic follow-up of the players in every phase. It also contributes to predictability and knowledge of the companies in the petroleum sector.
Norway’s model for the exercise of government authority builds on trust. Regulators check that the industry accepts the responsibility it has been given, meets its obligations and complies with the regulations.
This approach presupposes good and constructive collaboration between government, companies and unions. Any deterioration in trust would significantly weaken the basis for today’s system.
"The Norwegian model is based on trust. Should this deteriorate, the basis of today's system would be significantly weakened."
Trust is not a matter of course. Building it requires a gradual process of dialogue and interaction. A new company entering the NCS may well appear a sound player, but confidence in it takes time to develop.
It is attained through familiarity, knowledge and expertise – and the clear motivation of the players to work on HSE and improvements.
For the PSA to invest trust in the companies, a prerequisite is that they display the ability to operate prudently, possess expertise, and are open, reliable and dependable.
Similarly, the companies must perceive the PSA as clear, competent and independent – including on the difficult issues – before they begin trusting it.
This requires that the way the agency deals with matters, pursues follow-up and uses its enforcement powers is predictable and equitable.
The PSA needs a high level of credibility, authority and integrity, both in society as a whole and among the players in the industry. Putting its foot down and showing where the line is drawn are significant in winning such a reputation.
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Companies awarded licence interests on the NCS have been carefully vetted in advance, in part for their expertise, capacity and willingness to accept responsibility.
As a result, both the regulations and their enforcement are orientated to support the companies’ experience of their own responsibility.
The preparatory study for the 2018 White Paper on HSWE in the petroleum sector concluded that the regime is robust and should be maintained.
A consensus prevails that Norway’s existing regulatory regime provides flexibility and latitude. But this demands that the latitude is exercised in a constructive way, and that the parties follow up their responsibility to maintain and develop the level of safety.
"A consensus prevails that Norway’s existing regulatory regime provides flexibility and latitude. But this demands that the latitude is exercised in a constructive way, and that the parties follow up their responsibility to maintain and develop the level of safety."