The Director General gave the opening address on behalf of Secretary General Ellen Seip, who was unable to attend.
"Employee participation has a strong tradition in Norwegian business and industry, and nowhere is this done better than in the petroleum industry," Kvam said. She emphasised the current trends towards regionalisation or globalisation of the major oil companies, centralisation of management, the site of power being moved, changed decision-making processes - and hence changed conditions for employee participation.
"Many fields on the Shelf are facing major changes. E-operation is a key concept here, and staff reductions are on the agenda. I would encourage the industry to be well aware of these trends, and to prove that it can be a trend-setting industry in times such as these as well," Kvam said, stressing that "the future, as we can see it in the crystal ball, is an exacting one."
The Director General pointed out that HSE success and high value creation are inextricably linked to robust work processes - where participation is a vital precondition.
"Good, orderly and confidence-building processes are pillars of good HSE practice. Participation must remain an element throughout the entire lifecycle - from design and operation to dismantling and removal," she said.
Kvam reminded the audience that both internationalisation, developments regarding information and technology, a changed player picture and new activities will challenge the work of maintaining and further developing the HSE level in the time ahead.
"The petroleum industry is meant to be a pioneering industry. The HSE aspect must be a natural and crucial part of the assessments when choices are made regarding future solutions, change decisions and new company and organisational structures," she emphasised.
Valuable cooperation between the parties
When asked how the petroleum industry is different from other industries, and how this affects the HSE aspect, Kvam said:
"Norwegian petroleum activities constitute an industry with many resources - both with regard to expertise, earnings and experience. This has an obvious effect on how the parties cooperate. The players know what they are talking about and how to reach their goals. They demonstrate a willingness to take responsibility for the development of the health, safety and environment work.
The Director General adds that this is a vital condition for maintaining a high level in the activities. "Both the regulations and the audit system have been designed on the assumption that there will be well-functioning cooperation between the parties", she underlined.
In her opening address, Ms. Kvam pointed to the RNNS project (Trends in risk levels - Norwegian Shelf) as an important contribution towards a common understanding of the trends in risk levels.
"At the end of the 1990s we noted that the parties in the industry pointed in separate directions in indicating a course for risk development on the Shelf. Today RNNS has an important position in the industry. The Ministry will use these experiences to establish a new, national monitoring system for the working environment and health - and the petroleum industry will also be included here." Kvam said.