Norway has 50 years of oil history behind it. But what will the next chapter of its safety saga look like? Did developments take a wrong turn? Or was the country able to reverse the worrying trend of the past two years?
Reversing the trend
The very first well on the NCS was spudded in the summer of 1966. That was a milestone in Norwegian oil history – and the start of a 50-year tale of upswings and downturns, celebration and catastrophe, and tough times and bold decisions.
Safety runs like a red thread through all these years. Constant progress has been made since 1966, and Norway has undoubtedly achieved a high safety and working environment performance in petroleum operations.
This success has rested on responsibility, learning, regulatory development, and drawing the lessons from serious incidents. This formula also embraces the common ambition of all sides in the industry to achieve continuous improvement.
Five decades after the Norwegian oil adventure began, the petroleum sector faces important safety challenges. Trends are moving in the wrong direction in a number of areas.
To get safety developments back on the right track, we have identified a main issue for 2017 – reversing the trend.
The goals of this commitment are to influence the industry and to achieve visible and measurable results.
Quite simply – the trend will be reversed.
We have decided to focus work with the 2017 main issue on three defined areas.
Collaboration between the various sides in the petroleum sector is under greater pressure, both between companies and unions and between them and the government. Such bi- and tripartite interaction occupies a key place in Norwegian safety efforts.
Consequences of a weakened cooperation could include a poorer basis for important decisions by company managements, and weaker entrenchment with employees of important choices for the way forward.
The industry is making major changes to cut costs and become more efficient. We are worried that such optimisation will increasingly squeeze margins in technical facilities, operating systems and organisations. The end result could be reduced robustness.
Norway’s petroleum sector has been among the leaders for standardisation and the use of standards. We are now observing a trend which threatens the norms which form the basis for the functional HSE regulations.
What we want to achieve
The main issue of reversing the trend applies for one year. Work on it will have a high priority with us and in the industry over coming months.
During 2017, we will be conducting a number of audits and technical assignments directed at efforts by the companies to reverse a worrying trend.
The effects of this commitment will be monitored and measured, both during the year and afterwards. Some results could be quickly achieved, while others will take longer to have an impact.