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Minutes from the Safety Forum Meeting No. 5/2007

The lifeboat issue, the PSA's role in environmental management and Integrated Operations (IO) were among the main topics discussed when the Safety Forum held its last meeting in 2007 on 29 November.

See links to the minutes and presentations in the link box on the right

Lifeboat issue creates debate
An ambitious agenda had been set in which the status of the lifeboat issue was the subject of an extensive debate.  OLF gave a detailed account of the history and status of the industry project that was initiated to bring forth all possible knowledge about the 16 free-fall lifeboat models used in the offshore activities.

The media coverage of the follow-up of full-scale testing, in which questions were raised surrounding the need to change the health requirements, was vigorously opposed by the employee representatives.

They pointed out that unnecessary uncertainty had been created surrounding the safety of employees.  There was an extensive, critical debate regarding the project process from the employees' side, while OLF noted that the process surrounding handling of information was challenging, given the concrete findings.

Status, challenges and progress have all been addressed in detail in the minutes.  The project, which will have a total cost of about NOK 300 million, will not be completed until late fall 2008.  PSA director and head of the Safety Forum, Magne Ognedal, emphasized that the Safety Forum will follow this issue closely and monitor to ensure that the work proceeds in a good and orderly fashion.

The PSA's role in environmental management
The PSA gave a thorough review of its role as a key player in environmental management, based on the HSE regulations for the activities. The PSA's regulatory responsibility for preventing acute spills and acute discharges at the source (well control) were explained. 

The PSA's role as a contributor to policy in technology, management and operations was also emphasized.

Considerations for life, health and the external environment often coincide, as the basic principles are the same:  precaution, risk, cautious approach, substitution, etc. The PSA shall contribute to ensure that the dilemmas between various considerations are communicated clearly, and that these dilemmas are handled without violation of the law.

Integrated operations (IO) in an HSE perspective
IO will continue to be one of the PSA's main commitment areas, and it is also one of the key areas on the Safety Forum's strategic agenda.

The PSA gave a comprehensive and thorough introduction into the concept and the strategic role that IO will play in the industry in the future. The PSA's project manager noted that we are on the brink of a wave of change in which IO will intervene in key parts of the development, such as reduced costs and improved recovery.  HSE and IO must be closely linked in order to reduce the range of uncertainty and thus also the negative consequences of the changes.  Examples were used to highlight the great importance of ICT security to secure the barrier systems and reduce vulnerability and the consequences of increased complexity.

How to secure HSE in contracts
Once again, Magne Ognedal underlined the PSA's concern as regards market conditions and the persistent challenges associated with capacity and competence.  He asked whether it was time to set stricter or clearer requirements with regard to competence and capacity for the HSE work on the part of the contractors.

The contribution towards realizing the ambition of the authorities, employers and employee to become world leaders in HSE must come from the entire hierarchy of the obligated parties.  He emphasized that this entails an assumption that key prerequisites must be incorporated into the contracts. While the employees pointed to the necessity of facilitating genuine employee participation in contract processes, the employers stated that good processes for participation and implementation of good systems were achieved in many places.

The minutes go into more detail regarding the challenges that follow from the fast tempo in the industry and the consequences for comprehensive management of the activities.

Serious incidents
The reviewed cases included the incident on the Kvitebjørn gas pipeline on 14 November 2007, which suffered damage due to an anchor that got caught on the gas pipeline, leading to shutdown.  An account was also given of the background for the incident when two employees on Statfjord B were injured on 15 November 2007 in connection with testing of a new ”black start” compressor. The incident took place when an out of control air hose with approx. 25 bar pressure struck the persons working with the hose.  A couple of gas leaks, one on Tampen Link on 7 October and one at the Kårstø plant on 16 November 2007 were also reviewed.

International and national cooperation
There was a presentation of the extensive cooperation work underway on the part of the authorities to establish common international HSE indicators.  If this work is successful, it will be possible to compare levels of selected indicators between participating nations, and contribute to identifying the underlying factors in trends.  The main challenges are to get the work established on a solid professional foundation to ensure that we are actually comparing "apples with apples".
There are many challenges, in part due to the substantial differences in reporting cultures between the nations.  Both employees and employers take a positive view of the initiative, after debunking a good deal of incorrect information in this area.

The risk level project has undergone improvements aimed at adapting the questionnaire to the land facilities in connection with the comprehensive survey underway among petroleum employees.

With regard to improvements offshore, this has been aimed at mobilizing participation, distribution and collection of questionnaires. The questionnaire is the most significant activity in the qualitative work on the risk level project, and is implemented every other year.  The results of a collective survey will be available at the end of April 2008.

The Safety Forum's annual conference will be held on 12 June, and relevant topics for the conference were discussed.  The northern areas, IO, changes in economic cycles, personnel shortages and HSE, competence and capacity under pressure, ethical perspectives and many other topics came up in a comprehensive brainstorming session.

The secretariat will continue to work on the draft program.

A number of other items were presented, commented on and discussed. More details are available in the minutes found in the link box.  

Contact in the PSA:
Angela Ebbesen, technical secretary in the Safety Forum
E-mail: angela.ebbesen@ptil.no