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Minister Dagfinn Høybråten: ?Investing in HSE makes sense, and is lucrative?

"Investing in health, safety and the environment in the petroleum sector makes sense, and is lucrative. Also, HSE is a management responsibility. Inadequate management involvement in HSE can have fatal consequences," Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Dagfinn Høybråten (photo) said in his opening speech at the first ever International Regulators' Offshore Safety Forum on 30 March in London.

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) has collaborated with the authorities in other member countries of the International Regulators' Forum to organise a major conference on health, safety and the environment in all coastal countries with offshore oil and gas activities.

The conference opened in London on 30 March, and the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Dagfinn Høybråten and his American peer Gale Norton held the opening speeches.

Minister Høybråten opened by making reference to the PSA's key position in Norwegian society. In 2004, 80 000 people were employed in oil and gas-related activities, and the sector accounted for 25% of our total income.

Dagfinn Høybråten, NorwaySustainable business
"In the light of this, it goes without saying that the government needs to have long-term ambitions with regard to preserving the value creation of this industry sector," said Høybråten, and emphasised that the authorities' objectives include reducing the risk of accidents that can harm people, the environment and assets, as well as reducing the danger of work-related injuries and illness among employees, and prevent exclusion from working life.

"An important instrument in order to attain these goals is a technically well-qualified supervisory body that can implement the appropriate measures in relation to challenges and trends in the industry, enabling us to attain our paramount objectives."

Speaking to the nearly 150 participants from approximately 20 countries, Høybråten also stressed that there is a direct link between good HSE management and profitability.

"Prevention and the right HSE measures pay off, not least because they reduce the risk of costly operational disruptions, repairs, production shutdown, etc."

Høybråten cited the Snorre blow-out in November 2004 as an example of what can happen if the management is not adequately involved in the HSE work.

"The PSA's investigation report uncovered deficient management involvement, and I therefore thought it appropriate to drive home this point here," said Høybråten after the speech.

International regulatory co-operation
The objective of the regulators' conference in London is to exchange good working methods and experiences, as well as identifying differences in the ways in which the authorities carry out their supervision.

Høybråten also stressed the importance of good international co-operation among the authorities.

"This event is the beginning of a strengthened network of supervisory bodies. Norwegian authorities will be a driving force in further developing this network," Høybråten underlined.

The Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, mr. Dagfinn
Høybråten and his American collegue, mrs Gale Norton
(Secretary of the Department of the Interior, USA)

U.S. praise for the PSA
Høybråten's American colleague Gale Norton used her speech to praise Norwegian authorities in general, and the director of the PSA Magne Ognedal in particular, for many year's efforts to improve the international collaboration among authorities in the oil sector.

Norton also commended the PSA for having developed and set up the international website
www.icrard.org. The website, which was launched in 2004, provides a global overview of research and development projects within health, safety and the environment in petroleum activities. In addition, the website contains a unique search engine that only looks for HSE information on selected websites.

"The website is a unique tool, and a good example of what can be achieved through international co-operation fora," Norton emphasized.