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International inter-agency cooperation

In the same way that the industry has established international collaborative forums, international agencies also cooperate on common safety challenges. This week the International Regulators’ Forum (IRF) is holding a conference and meeting in Washington.

Foto: Emile Ashley
Anne Myhrvold, direktør i Petroleumstilsynet

The IRF was founded in 1994 and comprises safety agencies from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the UK and the USA. The members exchange details of their surveillance activities and notify each other of relevant technical issues.

"The petroleum industry is characterised by major, multinational participants. This makes it important for the agencies to reinforce their activities by exchanging and discussing common experiences. International companies 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", says PSA Director General Anne Myhrvold.

The Arctic
The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway is a member of various international forums. The most recently formed is the Arctic Offshore Regulator’s Forum (AORF), which brings together the six nations with continental shelves in Arctic waters (the USA, Canada, Russia, Iceland, Greenland and Norway). Sweden and Finland, as members of the Arctic Council, also participate. Common interests in safe operations in these vulnerable areas mean that the national agencies have every reason to cooperate.

"AORF is a key arena for collectively feeding information back to the industry. Among the benefits of taking part 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", says Myhrvold.

The members of the AORF are meeting on 26 and 27 October in Tromsø, in connection with the Arctic Safety Summit, which takes place immediately afterwards.

North Sea cooperation 
Another international cooperation in which the PSA participates is the North Sea Offshore Authorities’ Forum (NSOAF), which brings together safety authorities with responsibility for activities in the North Sea basin. Over the years, working groups set up by NSOAF have undertaken many projects aimed at identifying common problems and implementing common measures to help improve OHSE in the North Sea.

Bilateral cooperation
The PSA also helps take due account of the internationalisation of the sector through bilateral cooperation with other offshore agencies. For example, the framework agreement concerning cross-boundary petroleum cooperation between the British and Norwegian authorities has been enhanced by separate agreements between the UK's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the PSA on the safety and working environment side.

Russia faces huge challenges in terms of developing its oil and gas industry in the High North, and activities on the Russian Continental Shelf affect Norway and our coast. The joint prime ministerial statement between Norway and Russia on energy cooperation from June 2005 also discusses HSE cooperation. This is the rationale for the PSA's ambition to strengthen cooperation with equivalent surveillance authorities on the Russian side; and, most recently in September 2015, representatives from the PSA's senior management visited the Russian safety authorities.