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Integrated Operations: - Require cooperation and HSE considerations

"The integration of health, environment and safety aspects at an early stage is a prerequisite if the petroleum industry is to fulfil its goals for Integrated Operations".

Link: Norwegian Petroleum Society
Link: Presentation (in Norwegian) - Ingrid Årstad

This was the main message delivered by Ingrid Årstad (picture), discipline leader in the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway, at the Conference for Offshore Operations and Maintenance 2005 (The OOM Conference) - arranged by the Norwegian Petroleum Society.

There is are a variety of concepts for Integrated Operations. This diversity will not decrease in the future. Integrated Operations, also called eOperations and Smart operations, will lead to different working and decision making processes, with offshore and onshore having simultaneous access to the same information.

In the lead
"New optimism - how do we safeguard the changes that are needed" was the heading under which the Norwegian Petroleum Society issued invitations to a session in Bergen on 19 - 20 October. Technological development drives changes, and major challenges require us to change gears quickly. How will an industry facing strong competition from abroad and constant HSE challenges be able to stay in the lead? This was the paramount question.

Ingrid Årstad emphasized the PSA's mission to contribute to a high level of health, environment, safety and preparedness, and thereby value creation for the Norwegian society.

"Integrated Operations mean that some job tasks will disappear, while others will be added. These changes must take place in an appropriate manner, which is what the PSA will contribute to," the discipline leader for HSE management/legal underlined.

"The development is driven by the industry's need for cost efficiency and technical opportunities. The pace is high, and the industry wants it to become even higher. An early integration of cooperation between the parties and HSE considerations is a prerequisite for reaching the goals the companies set for themselves," Årstad pointed out.

Not an impediment
"In order to check out the practical aspects of our own goals and working methods we need to understand and generalize the changes that eOperations entail. We must capture the multitude of Integradet Operation solutions, and contribute constructively with respect to risks as well as opportunities," she explained.

Årstad further specified that the authorities also focus on whether their own audits are adapted to the future of the Norwegian shelf, and whether Integrated Operation related research provides sufficient considerations for HSE.

Evaluating the regulations
"We focus on the regulations, and will constantly evaluate whether they are adapted to this development, or whether they might be an impediment for viable improvements," said Årstad.

"So far we have not identified any requirements in the HES regulations that seem to be an impediment for the development that is taking place in the industry, or for the companies' abilities to achieve their ambitions," she added.

Not automatically
The discipline leader emphasized that changes in forms of operation create new risk elements as well as new opportunities for improved safety. She pointed out some of the risk factors and possibilities the PSA can see with respect to the continuously more integrated operations in the petroleum industry:

"Improved information and communication are among the possibilities. As is the fact that non-conformities can be uncovered sooner, that it will become easier to obtain an overview of the status offshore, and to engage more and better expertise in operations," were among the advantages Årstad listed.

"At the same time, we are concerned about several other consequences of virtual organizations and work processes. Such as - how can we ensure that we have common criteria for decision making, or the same mental images in teams that work across company structures and perhaps even country borders?" she questioned.

Årstad pointed out that neither the exploitation of opportunities, nor the control of risks would happen automatically. "It will all take some very determined focus", she stated.

Among the specific Integrated Operation challenges, the discipline leader focused especially on employee participation considerations. Årstad is of the opinion that this raises several issues, such as the lack of overview for ongoing change processes.

"We notice that local contribution becomes limited, and that personnel only have access to fragments of a business concept," is how Årstad illustrated this. "We see a need to clarify how involvement on all levels can be improved, whether for projects, companies, regions or business sectors. Where and how to bridge the different levels, and likewise between contractors and operators? Such differentiation would make it easier to find suitable forums and processes," the discipline leader concluded.

OLF report
Årstad used the OLF report "Integrated work processes" as the point of departure for her speech. The report outlines the main features of the development and changes on the Norwegian shelf, divided into three main groups:

  • The traditional way of working - characterized by independent offshore units communicating at appointed times, or as needed. The communication is delayed and there are manual processes for generating and analyzing information.
  • The first generation of integrated operations, providing offshore with continuous support from an integrated team in a cooperation and control center, where both the offshore and onshore personnel have access to the same information at the same time. They cooperate in real time.
  • The second generation of integrated processes, with a development of operation services on the web, where operations are run by several centers and participants (also from abroad), and where the work and decision-making processes are subject to extensive automation. Information is filtered automatically.

Not a clear goal
"Thus far, we have yet to see that an improvement of HSE has been a clear goal in the ongoing processes of change towards more integrated operations," Årstad stated. "We see how the ongoing processing are tearing down the traditional barriers between the different disciplines and work processes.

What we do not see, however, is any attempt to change the traditional barriers between the HSE considerations and the value creating processes. Is HSE competence the last element to be integrated?" Ingrid Årstad concluded.

Contact in the PSA:Ingrid Årstad