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Digital technology and ICT security – how is the industry digitalising to improve HSE?

Following up the petroleum industry’s work with digital technology and ICT security is a priority area at the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA). A key target for this supervision in 2019 will be helping the sector to improve safety and the working environment.

The PSA has pursued a number of activities in recent years related to digital technology and ICT security. These have included auditing control systems, knowledge development in such areas as artificial intelligence, remote support and digital working, and dialogue with various partners in the industry. Digital technology and ICT security have also been incorporated as a subject for follow-up in the Safety Forum.

Ambitious plans
The industry is characterised by a rapid pace of change. Work assignments, processes and organisation are altering as a consequence of digitalisation and new technology. The companies have ambitious plans to increase the use of digital solutions throughout the value chain.

That calls for a tighter integration of different computer and support systems, sensor information, databases, people and decisions. Such a development could contribute to more efficient work processes, replace manual work, enhance analyses and improve decisions.

Increased utilisation of digital technology could have a clearly positive impact on HSE and contribute to greater competitiveness. But this development could also make the petroleum industry more exposed to digital vulnerabilities, with new lines of attack which could lead in turn to threats and risk.

Greater demands
Digitalisation poses tougher requirements for the quality of base data, testing and use of algorithms, sharing data across organisations, new collaboration models, training and learning, and mutual adaptation of work processes and technology. A key issue in this context is how the industry handles worker participation, expertise and training in the application of new technology.

Based on experience and observations, the PSA will be devoting greater attention to following up activities related to developing and implementing digital technology and to changes in work processes and modes of collaboration – such as robotisation, automated drilling processes, use of portable technology and maintenance systems.

As part of this sharper focus, the interface between decision support tools and human and organisational conditions will be of particular interest. The PSA will also follow up company plans to ensure prudent change processes and check the way employees are involved and looked after.

ICT security
The PSA has been following up the issue of ICT security for more than a decade. Vulnerabilities for society – including the petroleum sector –are growing in this area. Additional funds related to ICT security over a four-year period from 2018 to 2021 have been allocated to the PSA by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.

The PSA’s attention in this area is primarily directed at industrial ICT systems. At the same time, addressing the vulnerability of and threats to such solutions from adjacent computer systems will be important.

Industrial ICT systems have seen a trend towards greater integration of a number of sub-systems, which opens the way to more unified solutions – including control and monitoring from land.

Making industrial ICT systems and associated processes more robust, and increasing understanding of ICT security, are important because these activities represent important barriers for resisting digital vulnerabilities, threats and risk.

ICT security is a key consideration in ongoing work to increase digitalisation. Collaboration between the parties in the industry is important for enhancing understanding and building a culture so that the sector can become even more robust and capable of dealing with digital vulnerabilities in a dynamic risk picture.

Strengthened effort
The additional funding for ICT security means that the PSA has been able to strengthen its efforts in this area, and it is now pursuing a number of activities directed at the industry’s follow-up there.

A key goal is to help enhance robustness and an understanding of the importance of good ICT security. The PSA has strengthened its resources here, and will pay close attention to the subject in the time to come. Collaboration with other bodies and sectors, nationally and internationally, is important for enhanced sectoral learning and sharing of experience.

The PSA’s further follow-up will build on the companies’ own management of ICT security and digitalisation. Through this work, the authority wants to help the industry place safety and the working environment high up the agenda when digital technology is developed and implemented in the companies.