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Is lack of competence a safety risk?

A new report on competence and capacity in the rig industry shows that a lack of professional competence and rig experience from the Norwegian Continental shelf (NCS) may pose a safety risk. At the same time, new rigs using new technology and long-term contracts may have a positive impact on the risk level.

Commissioned by the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway, SINTEF has compiled a report on capacity and competence in the rig industry in order to assess the potential consequences for HSE of inadequate competence. The background to the report was a high and increasing level of activity in the rig industry, with pressure on access to qualified personnel.

Few capacity problems
According to the report, capacity in the rig industry is not seen as a challenge, either by rig company employees or the industry organisations that participated in the project. Many of the stakeholders interviewed were finding that advertised positions in the rig companies attracted many applicants.

Lack of competence and experience
The challenges largely relate to a lack of competence and experience:

  • many of the applicants are not properly qualified
  • many applicants lack work experience and experience of the NCS or professional certification
  • in some cases, language is also a barrier

Unqualified and inexperienced workers may increase the risk
Nowadays, the rig companies want their new hires to have gained professional certification and maritime training. In periods when unqualified and inexperienced recruits are hired en masse, a safety risk may arise. The challenge is greatest if the employee is new to both the rig industry and the job.

Positive factors
At the same time, more new rigs are arriving on the NCS. According to the report, these new rigs, incorporating new technology and with a combination of experienced and inexperienced personnel on board, will help promote safe working practices. The combination of new series-production rigs using new technology and under long-term contracts may therefore have a positive impact on the safety level on the NCS.

Contact at the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway:
Bjørn Andreas Hanson, e-mail: bjorn.andreas.hanson@ptil.no