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PSA touring the land installations

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) will be visiting all the land-based petroleum installations in Norway in the course of this winter. The first stop was Mongstad, which was visited last week. "As well as introducing ourselves, one of our goals is to help the management and employees on the installations become comfortable with the PSA as their new supervisory authority", says principal engineer Sigvart Zachariassen.


The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway was established on 1 January this year as an independent government body with responsibility for safety, emergency preparedness and the working environment in the petroleum activities.

Its responsibility includes also the petroleum installations on land and their associated pipeline systems - from Slagentangen and Kårstø in the south, via Sture, Mongstad, Kollsnes, Nyhavna and Tjeldbergodden to Melkøya in the north. Until now, the Directorate of Labour Inspection and the Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning (DSB) have been responsible for these land facilities.

Great need for information

Statoil's project manager for Vest
Process Modification (VPME) at
Mongstad, Asbjørn Johnsen (on the
left) with Arne Johan Thorsen and
Sigvart Zachariassen from the PSA.
"We must let everyone know what it will actually mean to have a new supervisory authority, we must clarify roles and responsibilities and introduce ourselves properly. At the same time we need to gain an understanding of the activities taking place on the installation and the particular challenges they are facing - and how we can assist them from our position," says Sigvart Zachariassen.

He heads up a project group in the PSA which is to ensure that the new authority's tasks on the land facilities are carried out in the best possible way.

"Our ambition for this first meeting is to establish a common understanding of reality and find practical modes of cooperation between the activities and ourselves," adds Arne Johan Thorsen, a principal engineer and PSA's installation contact with Statoil/Mongstad.

Unity offshore - land
The main reason for gathering the supervisory authority under one umbrella has been the government's desire for unity and coherence between the petroleum activities offshore and the associated land facility which is managed by the same operator.

Arne Johan Thorsen underlined in the meeting that the intention of the new scheme is to contribute to a more unified handling of challenges relating to safety and emergency preparedness, whether the activity takes place on land or at sea. One also hopes to give the activities a higher degree of predictability as regards government supervison – with regard to strategies, methods and scope.

Challenges

With a capacity of 10 million
tonnes of crude oil per year, the
refinery at Mongstad is the largest
in Norway. The refinery is owned
by Mongstad Refining, where
Statoil owns 79 percent and Shell
21 percent. All crude oil refined at
Mongstad comes from the
Norwegian shelf. (Photo: Statoil)
Sigvart Zachariassen points to several specific challenges in relation to the work with the land facilities.

"The supervision responsibility and contractor management are two of the problem areas we have to address. Long contract chains where it is difficult to keep track of and control the operators in hectic building and installation phases have been reported as problems, and so has experience feedback," says Zachariassen.

"Working hours are a big challenge, too. Even though this is an issue offshore as well, the regime there is far more stable, with permanent shift arrangements, than it is on land. Here we are expecting the operator to take on a clear role in coordinating such processes," he adds.

Continuous cooperation with the Directorate of Labour Inspection and the Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning (DSB) will ensure transfer of experience and continue best practice from the work that has already been done.

"Huge building and construction work, use of heavy machinery, tunnel work, etc., are some of the challenges at the land facilities. The Directorate of Labour Inspection has a lot of experience and insight in this area, and we want to learn from them," says Zachariassen.

Valuable additions
As the government authority for the petroleum facilities on land was transferred to the PSA, we have also taken over three new employees from DSB; Per Låhne, Jan Gunnar Røed and Øivind Brevik.

"We are participating actively in the project group, both with regard to regulations, information and supervision activities. In this way we represent a continuity vis-a-vis the installations, the management and the employees, says Låhne.

"We have enjoyed very good cooperation with resource people from the PSA for many years, however they were then in the Petroleum Directorate and we were in the Directorate for Fire and Explosion Prevention (DBE). Internal control has been the foundation of our work with the industry from as early as the 1980s. In fact, the supervisory authorities on the land facilities have always been in agreement with the petroleum authorities when it comes to regulatory philosophy and supervison strategy," he adds.

As an example of different sectors having something to learn from each other, Låhne is currently central in the planning of a two-day seminar on the Major Accident Regulations which is to help the supervisory authorities achieve a unified understanding of the issues involved.

"A few terrible accidents, such as the one in a fertilizer factory in Toulouse, France where 26 people died, demonstrate the need to focus on the potential for major industrial accidents at all times. This is also in line with the PSA's approach and its follow-up of gas leaks in the industry," says Låhne. He also believes that the land installations will benefit from the experiences gained in the cooperation project Trends in Risk Level – Norwegian shelf.

Contact in the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway:
Sigvart Zachariassen,
head of the project group to follow up the land installations