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Audit of change and reorganization processes in Norsk Hydro

During the period 8 December 2004 - 28 January 2005, the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) conducted an audit of health, safety and environment (HSE) in connection with change and reorganization processes in Norsk Hydro Produksjon as (NH). We did not identify any non-conformities with the regulations in this audit, but there were some areas with potential for improvement.


The audit was carried out through interviews at NH's offices on land on 8-9 December 2004, and offshore verifications on Brage and Oseberg C (OSC) from 25-28 January 2005.

The following factors were emphasized:

  • Analyses and basis for decision-making

  • Measurement parameters and indicators

  • Implementation and information

  • Follow-up activities

  • Employee participation

  • Competence and manning

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Background for the audit

Norsk Hydro has carried out several change and reorganization processes in recent years.

The regulations stipulate clear requirements for safeguarding HSE in connection with change and reorganization.

Therefore, ensuring that changes in the petroleum activities are planned, implemented and followed up in accordance with the regulatory requirements, and that the changes ensure that the level of HSE is maintained and further developed, is a central point in the PSA's priorities.

Purpose of the audit

The objective of the audit has been to obtain an overview of NH's management in relation to planning, implementing and following up change processes.

Another objective has been to obtain an overview of the practical challenges and status of planned and implemented change measures on NH's facilities, as a basis for further follow-up.

Result of the audit

During the audit, the PSA found several improvement areas linked to implementation of change processes on Brage and OSC.

It is the PSA's opinion that it would be beneficial to collect several of the highlighted challenges in a best practice document.

This could help ensure good transfer of experience and uniform implementation of change processes in NH, including facilitating employee participation, the quality and content of impact assessments and dialogue with the affected parties.

Result - Brage

Brage (source: Norsk Hydro) No regulatory non-conformities were identified during the audit.

We identified eight areas with potential for improvement in NH's systems for safeguarding HSE in change and reorganization processes.

There is a need for thorough assessment and follow-up within several of these areas.

Our assessment is that the challenges facing Brage are primarily linked to competence and manning.


We have noted circumstances with potential for improvement within the following areas:

We have noted circumstances with potential for improvement within the following areas:
  • Lag in connection with implementing professional training.
  • Manning in relation to activity level.
  • Use of additional hours and overtime not very flexible.
  • Phase-driven change processes.
  • Workload for operations team manager (DTL).
  • Follow-up of physical working environment factors and implementation of measures.
  • Training linked to the various systems introduced by Hydro.
  • Inadequate office conditions for the campaign team.

At the same time, we noted several positive observations during the audit, including:

  • Good involvement and good participation in the various project activities in Brage 2010+, including employee participation and well-organized team-building gatherings.
  • We got the impression that job satisfaction on board Brage was very high. This is also reflected in the PSA's "RNNS" (Risk level on the Norwegian shelf).
  • The campaign team had good team spirit, and had established a good climate of cooperation and dialogue with the rest of the platform organization.
  • Good plans for use of a new interaction room.
  • Team-based area maintenance (TBO) is practiced systematically to rectify simple technical problems, with rapid and non-bureaucratic implementation.
  • Good order and cleanliness in the living quarters, basically good also in the outdoor areas.
  • Broad-based participation and involvement on the part of the employees on Brage in regard to the PSA's list of topics, which had been sent out to the platform in advance. Management on board had also allocated sufficient time and opportunity for discussion in the various shifts.

During the audit, we experienced a climate of openness and trust in all our conversations, both on land and offshore.

Result - Oseberg C

During the audit we did not record any non-conformities in relation to regulatory requirements.

We noted six circumstances with potential for improvement in NH's systems for safeguarding HSE in change and reorganization processes.

The audit on Oseberg C took place during a period immediately preceding implementation of the reorganization, and we noted some uncertainty among the employees as regards the impact the changes would have on them.

We hope that the measures as a result of our identified improvement areas can be implemented before the changes take effect, so that the audit can make a positive contribution to the process.

Oseberg C (source: Norsk Hydro)

During the audit we did not record any non-conformities in relation to regulatory requirements.

We noted six circumstances with potential for improvement in NH's systems for safeguarding HSE in change and reorganization processes.

The audit on Oseberg C took place during a period immediately preceding implementation of the reorganization, and we noted some uncertainty among the employees as regards the impact the changes would have on them.

We hope that the measures as a result of our identified improvement areas can be implemented before the changes take effect, so that the audit can make a positive contribution to the process.

Oseberg C (source: Norsk Hydro)

Our assessment is that the challenges facing Oseberg C are primarily linked to concrete and strategic communication (individual/group/general staff meeting) regarding the upcoming changes.

Since the changes in manning had not been implemented, and the scope of the tasks that would cease was not yet final (ref. the maintenance project) during the audit, it is difficult to evaluate all aspects of the reduced manning level, with potential consequences in increased workload for the individual.

In the PSA's opinion, it is important that the scope of work tasks is analyzed before the manning level is fixed. This is an important part of the decision basis in a change process.

We have noted circumstances with potential for improvement in the following areas:

  • Information and feedback
  • Certification of personnel responsible for various areas
  • Follow-up of working environment conditions and implementation of measures with the drilling area prior to start-up of drilling in April 2005
  • Employee participation during engineering of the interaction room
  • Transfer of experience
  • Training linked to the various systems introduced by Hydro

There were also several positive observations during the audit, including:

  • In consultation with the employees, management decided to postpone the implementation of the changes due to slow progress in the maintenance project in Porsgrunn, i.e. management took into account the fact that an important precondition for the change was not in place.
  • Comprehensive activities have been carried out by the project management to gather experience from other fields in Hydro and other companies. However, we noted that the potential for transfer of experience at the professional level was not fully utilized.
  • Well-qualified substitutes because regular personnel have had the opportunity to work extra, also positive that the platform is running with extra manning now. This training opportunity should be exploited systematically and to the maximum extent in the upcoming change phase.
  • It seems well thought-out and reasoned that the DTL position has been recruited both from Operations and Maintenance, and that operations planners (DPs) are recruited from most technical disciplines. Moreover, the DTL/DP on the same shift have different technical backgrounds.
  • Substantial improvements had been made on the metering station as regards improved access and ease of operation.
  • It is positive that the unit has initiated a coaching program for the operations team leaders.
  • Great enthusiasm on the part of the Oseberg C employees as regards the PSA's topic list, which had been sent offshore in advance.

During the audit, we experienced an open and trusting tone in all of our conversations, both on land and offshore.

Contact person i the Petroleum Safety Authority
Mike Theiss