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DwH final report: focus on four areas

The PSA’s final report following the major DwH accident is organised under three main headings and one topic – further development of BOPs – involving special challenges.

Assessments made in these four area are summarised below.

Risk management (chapter 4)
The PSA concluded in 2011 that the DwH accident demonstrated the need for better risk management and processes which lead to more robust solutions.

The impression is that awareness has increased here, but that the industry remains some way from achieving a more proactive approach.

This includes work to develop reliable indicators for managing major accident risk, and to distinguish better between indicators for personal injuries and major accidents.

New methods and tools are not necessarily the only answer. Today’s use of methods, given their strengths and weaknesses, has a clear improvement potential.

The PSA believes a need exists for clarifying the purpose of the risk management process. It wants to see a better balance

In addition, it wants the industry to take greater account of the uncertainty in risk assessments and to ensure that the results are relevant for and useful to those using them.

Research and development work is under way in both the industry and research institutes to improve existing analysis methods and tools.

By the very nature of this work, its results are more long-term and it will take time to assess the benefit and value of the research outcomes.

The PSA expects the industry to contribute actively in terms of commitment and involvement to achieving further improvements, both in the petroleum sector generally and in the companies.

Barrier management (chapter 8)
The sector is now familiar with the “barrier note” produced by the PSA, and initiatives have been taken at both company and

However, grounds exist for emphasising the significance of maintaining the industry’s commitment – including clarifying and strengthening understanding of the connection between risk and barrier management. Failures of and weakening in barriers are a general causal factor in undesirable incidents.

In barrier management, the risk picture must be used to establish both barrier strategies and the specific properties which the barriers must have. Operational, organisational and technical barrier elements must be identified as part of risk assessments.

Work by the players to establish and follow up barrier strategies makes an important contribution, and must cover development of new areas and mature fields, new structures and existing facilities.

Well integrity, gas-leak prevention and aging installations are subjects which still call for special attention.

Safety culture, organisation and management (chapter 9)
An important condition for developing a good HSE culture is clear and continuous prioritisation of safety by managers at all levels, including involvement by company directors and licensees.

Results from the PSA’s work on the significance of operating parameters for major accident risk demonstrate that the companies still need to give emphasis to HSE consequences related to such aspects as contracts, contractual relations, incentives, measurement parameters and securing expertise.

The PSA’s impression is that improvement efforts and measures are initiated after incidents, and that most companies in Norway have established systems to follow this up.

However, it still sees a need for the industry to get better at picking up signals of weaknesses at a sufficiently early stage, and for overall assessments and evaluations to identify the results and effects actually achieved by the companies.

The PSA feels it is still important that both government and players in the petroleum industry work to create and maintain robust safety cultures.

It also regards as positive the fact that clarifications, operationalisations and guidelines are prepared for key concepts which benefit the players.

An important condition for developing a good HSE culture is continuous and clear safety prioritisation by managers at all levels, including directors and licensees.

Operating parameters place key constraints on the freedom of action of the various parties and their ability to influence and reduce major accident risk.

The PSA sees a need for the companies to make continuous assessments of the way various operating parameters influence HSE and major accident risk.

Well control equipment (chapter 10)
Existing regulations require that safety systems, including BOPs, are reliable. The PSA sees that applicable standards fail to shed enough light on reliable operation, and that it thereby needs to make stronger efforts to check that BOP reliability is documented.

The necessity for improvements in this area was one of several issues highlighted at the conference held by the International Regulators Forum (IRF) in Australia last October.

This meeting noted that thinking outside the box is still required to develop technology which can replace traditional BOPs.

Existing initiatives appear to demand a more long-term perspective, which underlines the need for a results-oriented follow-up of traditional devices.

The PSA expects the current assignment being pursued by International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (OGP) and the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC) on behalf of the IRF to be given priority – also by the individual companies where required – and to see results from this work during 2014.

Capping equipment is ready for use, and the PSA expects the industry to follow up the need to develop and maintain the expertise needed for operating this.

It is also important that the companies include capping in their risk assessments when planning drilling and well operations, and that exercises are conducted in mobilising and using the equipment.

In this context, the industry should consider conducting a full-scale test of the equipment on the NCS. Solutions also ought to be developed for jack-up and wellhead facilities, and for handling blow-outs in shallow waters.

Similar follow-up of containment equipment will also be needed once this is available.