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Asks the industry to advocate high HES standards

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) challenges the industry and its relevant parties to explain why Norway should be a world leader in health, environment and safety in the petroleum activities. "A set of weighty arguments will be a good starting point to boost the HES level on the Norwegian shelf," says Director of Supervision of activities in the NPD and head of the Safety Forum, Magne Ognedal (photo).

Storting White Paper No. 7 (2001-2002) on health, environment and safety in the petroleum activities clearly states that the petroleum sector is to be a pioneer industry in health, environment and safety in all phases of the activities.

During the Safety Forum's annual conference in Stavanger, where the main topic was "Health, environment and safety in a three-party perspective", Ognedal pointed out, however, that the Norwegian shelf does not make a particularly positive impression in international statistics for accidents and other undesired incidents in the petroleum activities.

A commitment to HES pays off
"It is a stated ambition for the Norwegian oil industry to be the best in the world in health, environment and safety. In the NPD's point of view the industry uses the term without following this up in practice. Instead of having a long-term focus on this ambitious goal, the companies operate shortsightedly and with an exaggerated attentiveness to costs related to HES measures. We therefore challenge the industry to come up with three to four weighty arguments for why it is important to be world leaders in health, environment and safety. This will be a good basis on which to start necessary improvement processes," says Ognedal.

He emphasizes that the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate supports the objective that the Norwegian petroleum industry is to be a world leader in HES, both for social considerations and because this is sensible in a long-term, financial perspective.

"Experience shows that accidents and injuries are extremely expensive. both for those affected and for the companies and society at large," says Ognedal.

Number of gas leaks to be halved

The figure is from the NPD's Annual
Report 2002. It shows the trend
in the number of hydrocarbon leaks
distributed according to size
category in the period 1996 - 2002.

During the annual conference, Ognedal gave a presentation on how to fulfill the requirement for continuous reduction of the risk of major accidents on a mature shelf. He emphasized the initiative taken by the NPD to halve the number of gas leaks larger than 0.1 kg/s in the course of two years.

The reason for this initiative is the worrisome results of the project "Trends in the risk level on the Norwegian shelf". The NPD started this project in 1999. One of the purposes was to develop measurement tools that show the trend and can contribute to identifying critical areas.

The results so far show that the risk level related to the danger of loss of lives in major accidents in the period after 1999 has been at a higher level than the years 1996 to 1998. The trend in the number of gas leaks is one of the areas that gives most cause for concern.

"The trend in the number of gas leaks on the Norwegian shelf gives rise to concern and is an issue we must address. The industry has accepted the NPD's challenge and is now implementing various measures to reduce the number of gas leaks. In this work it is also important to look at experience gained in the British sector. The number of gas leaks over a certain size has been reduced dramatically after the authorities introduced similar reduction targets," says Ognedal.

Acknowledgement of Compliance (AoC) system
From 1 January 2004 the AoC system (Acknowledgement of Compliance for mobile drilling installations) will become mandatory on the Norwegian shelf. AoC was introduced as a voluntary system in 2000, and is a guideline statement from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate to the effect that a mobile drilling installation's technical condition, as well as the applicant's organization and management systems, have been assessed to be in compliance with relevant requirements in the Norwegian offshore regulations.

Ognedal emphasizes that the AoC system entails that the drilling contractors undertake clear obligations.

"After an Acknowledgement of Compliance from the NPD has been issued, the drilling contractors have a duty to ensure that the assumptions are subsequently complied with at all times. If this is not done, one measure implemented by the NPD may be to withdraw the Acknowledgement of Compliance," says Ognedal.

Contact in the NPD
Magne Ognedal