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A good landing

Five years have passed since the PSA came ashore. This period has been characterised by extensive activity and the start-up of two large new facilities.

The PSA took over regulatory responsibility for land-based petroleum plants in Norway in connection with its creation on 1 January 2004.

Since then, the Snøhvit gas liquefaction plant at Melkøya in the far north and the Ormen Lange receiving terminal at Nyhamna in mid-Norway have come on line. Major development and modification projects have also been pursued at existing land-based plants while they have remained in full production.

“Both the construction of complex facilities and combined operation and development make big demands on safety,” says Anne Vatten, one of the PSA’s two directors for supervisory activities.

“Supervising the land-based plants has therefore been both demanding and important.”

Extensive modification work is planned at a number of landbased plants during 2009, explains Ms Vatten, who has special responsibility for this area of the PSA’s supervision.

“We’ll be pushing for technical solutions which offer good safety and to ensure that possible savings won’t lead to less robust choices. Safety standards don’t vary with the economy.”

Growing integration between petroleum facilities offshore and on land was one of the main arguments for transferring regulatory responsibility for eight shore-based plants to the PSA.

It was seen as necessary to view petroleum activities at sea and on land from a unified perspective, Ms Vatten explains.

“Our perception is that companies involved both on the NCS and at land-based plants have tied their respective teams more closely together in recent years.

“Increased transfer of experience between offshore personnel and people at facilities on land is one benefit of such tighter integration.”

She has also found over the years that the management at the land-based plants are showing a much stronger commitment to HSE.

“Company executives must work purposefully to reduce the risk of major accidents, and to acquire an overview of the risk picture in their own business.

“We note that managements at the various plants have become far more involved in this area during recent years, but room for improvement still exists here as well.”

By Ole-Johan Faret