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Management and major accident risk: Close tabs on change

The question posed by the demanding and complex integration process following the merger between Statoil and Hydro Oil & Energy is whether it can be completed without affecting safety.

Statoil started work in 2009 on implementing a new operations model in its Exploration & Production Norway (EPN) business area, which embraces all activity on the company’s NCS installations.

These extensive changes embrace the introduction of a remodelled organisation and a number of new systems, as well as transfers of personnel.

The PSA has monitored this integration process closely since the merger took place in 2007, not least to ensure that the way it is managed does not increase the risk of a major accident.

A number of PSA audits focused on managing the changes in EPN and on working conditions for offshore leaders revealed that Statoil faced substantial challenges.

These included securing sufficient capacity and expertise on the installations as well as an acceptable workload for individuals and groups in the implementation phase.

The PSA consequently issued a notification of an order to Statoil during November.

“Statoil is pursuing a far-reaching change process with positive ambitions of securing the best from both former companies,” observes supervision coordinator Mona Haugstøyl.

“We’ve been following this activity since 2007 through a dialogue with both management and unions, and have challenged the company on issues relating to HSE.

“During the implementation phase, we concluded that the company’s control of capacity and site-specific expertise wasn’t good enough.

“Where management offshore is concerned, we saw that capacity and/or resources weren’t necessarily balanced in relation to the scope of work.”

Following the notification from the PSA, Statoil adopted a number of measures to secure sufficient expertise and capacity and an acceptable workload for individuals and groups offshore.

The company also undertook to check its management of these activities through sufficiently independent verification. On that basis, the PSA withdrew its notification. Ms Haugstøyl emphasises that the authority is not commenting on Statoil’s choice of operating model or the dimensioning of the latter.

“Our goal has been to check that project execution is managed in accordance with official requirements and that safe operation is given priority during the implementation phase.

“In addition, we need to see that the assumptions and measures contained in the decision base for the new organisation are being observed.”

The PSA intends to continue monitoring Statoil’s integration process during 2010.


By Øyvind Midttun