AORF is a cooperative forum comprising the safety agencies of the USA, Canada, Russia, Iceland, Greenland, Finland, Sweden and Norway. Its purpose is to discuss and evaluate safety-related threats and opportunities, in order to promote a high level of safety in petroleum activities in the Arctic.
"AORF is a key arena for collectively feeding information back to the industry", says Finn Carlsen, technical director at the PSA.
"It is the large, international oil majors like Statoil, Shell and ExxonMobil that are now targeting the High North. These are companies that also operate on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, so it is useful for us to talk with other national agencies about how they monitor these companies.
Among the benefits of taking part in a forum like this is that Norway also gains an insight into the planning of exploration drilling in far more challenging locations than we have opened up on the Norwegian Continental Shelf."
A number of the authorities in the forum are now reassessing their legislation from the perspective of the activities in the High North. Discussions about regulation are high on the agenda.
"In Norway, we have opted for a single, coherent set of regulations that impose the same requirements on the whole of the shelf. But we nonetheless see that there is a need to improve the standards further", says Carlsen.
"Norway has been extremely active in standards development, notably through the Barents2020 project, and the industry has made good progress in terms of developing standards for petroleum activities in the High North."
Arctic Safety Summit 2015
The AORF meeting is set to be held in Tromsø in connection with the Arctic Safety Summit, which takes place immediately afterwards, on 28-30 October. Carlsen stresses that it is important for the industry to start thinking long-term about the tasks to be solved.
"During tough times, faced with budget cuts, it is necessary to have good decision support in order to determine priorities. The summit will seek to elucidate which challenges it is important to address now. For this, we need input from the industry, employees, the authorities and the research institutes."