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Competence and capacity - key challenges for the industry

Several of the introductory speakers at the Safety Forum's annual conference focused on challenges related to competence and capacity as some of the key challenges facing the industry in the time to come. Also the PSA's Director General Magne Ognedal stressed that safety must not be sacrificed in the battle for the best minds.

"Expertise and capacity now seem to be the greatest challenges both for the industry and the authorities, also in an international perspective. We already see that resources are in short supply, and that measures have to be taken to avoid consequences for the safety work", Ognedal said in his introduction to the Safety Forum’s annual conference on Thursday last week.

The title of this year's conference is Current Trends, and addressed the dilemmas and challenges facing the industry. In addition to recruitment, topics such as increased activity in the north, working environment risks and the rig situation on the shelf were discussed during the day.

Rigged for the future
Jørgen Arnesen from the rigging company COSL Drilling Europe was one of several speakers who addressed the recruitment challenges, as well as the importance of having sufficient capacity and expertise. Furthermore, Arnesen presented numbers showing that the industry is going to need 2,700 new offshore employees by 2015 to staff 21 new rigs contracted on the Norwegian shelf.

"These rigs will also need third party suppliers of services such as cable services and cementing, service personnel from the equipment suppliers, and not least follow-up from the authorities", says Arnesen.

Going north
The conference had a separate session dedicated to issues related to activities in the northern area. In addition to challenges such as ice, cold, polar nights and vast distances, the availability of qualified personnel and equipment is also a key challenge in the north.

Monika Hausenblas from Shell, who presented the company's experiences related to safety and challenges from operations in Arctic waters,is, however, an optimist:

"It is quite possible to recover resources in the Arctic regions in a safe and sustainable way", she says.

Robust well design for the future
Discipline leader for drilling and wells in the PSA, Monica Ovesen, presented the authorities' expectations to the industry. In her presentation she addressed the potential for improvement of wells in operation, and pointed out that a robust well design will be one of the PSA's most important focus areas in the time to come.

She also notified the participants of changes in the PSA's enforcement relating to relief wells.

"In the future we will not grant consent to carry out exploration drilling for wells which require more than one relief well. Relief drilling with two relief wells has never been carried out offshore, only once in a landbased operation. If we are to grant consent for wells with a design that requires two relief wells, the companies must document that this is feasible for Norwegian conditions", said Ovesen.

Good attendance
The Safety Forum's annual conference - the 10th - was fully booked also this year. The great interest confirms the conference's importance for everyone engaged in health, safety and the environment in the petroleum activities.

Presentations and more information regarding the conference are available on the right-hand side (in Norwegian only).