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Long-term initiative to improve barriers

The petroleum industry's work on barriers and barrier management has been a special focus area for the PSA for many years. The continuing need for improvement makes this one of our main priorities in 2016 too.

Barriers are one of the PSA's main priorities in 2016. Read more here.

The goal of the main priority is that technical, operational and organisational barrier elements are maintained in an integrated and consistent manner in order to minimise risk.

Barrier memorandum to be updated

In order to clarify the authorities' expectations of barrier management, in 2013 the PSA published its "Principles for barrier management in the petroleum industry" (In Norwegian)

This barrier memorandum is currently being revised. An updated version will be published in the autumn.

First and foremost, risk and safety must be managed in order to arrive at secure and robust solutions that prevent failure, hazard and accident situations arising. These solutions may be technical, organisational or operational.

But even with reliable solutions in place, we may still come up against potential failures, hazards and accidents.

And in that case, good risk management entails the additional presence of barriers.

The requirement for barriers
Barriers have been part of the regulations since 2002, but the industry's implementation of these requirements has taken time.

Through our monitoring of the industry, we have detected relatively large differences between the participants in terms of their understanding, and therefore also compliance with, the regulatory requirements for barrier management.

What are barriers?
Barriers are measures whose function is to protect in the presence of failure, hazard and accident situations. Barriers are intended to prevent the development of a chain of events or to turn a chain of events in a more desirable direction.

Barrier function is to be provided by barrier elements that may be technical, organisational or operational.

What is barrier management?
Barrier management involves systematically and continuously ensuring that the necessary barriers, and the barrier elements they comprise, are identified and present in order to provide protection in all relevant failure, hazard and accident situations.

Barrier management is also about ensuring that the various barrier elements possess the requisite properties to provide, in combination, the intended barrier function.

Situational awareness
Barrier management should begin with a good understanding of the context in which the barriers are designed to function.

For example, there will be large differences in barrier design between manned and unmanned facilities or between gas-producing and oil-producing facilities.

Risk analyses may be a key source for helping identify failure, hazard and accident situations. Additional, highly facility-specific, identification of failure, hazard and accident situations is also necessary.

It is important that barriers are robust. It is impossible to be certain that all possible future incidents have been identified and that barriers will function as intended in the face of future events. Uncertainty must therefore be taken into account. This can be done by choosing and designing robust barriers.

Continuous process
Barrier management is a continuous process. Good barrier management is about the choice of technical and operational solutions in the design phase and ensuring that the solutions retain their intended properties over time. It is also about ensuring that anyone who directly or indirectly affects the risk picture and/or the barriers' properties understands the consequences of their choices and actions.

The risk picture, manning, personnel, production, the condition of technical barriers and so forth will evolve, resulting in a continual need for new or amended risk-reducing measures.