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Safety - status and signals in the petroleum industry

- HSE management, lifetime extension and a further improvement of the HSE level are key challenges for both the industry and the authorities. These are the thoughts of Director Magne Ognedal in connection with the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway';s (PSA's) launch of the publication Safety - status and signals 2006 - 2007.


Safety - status and signals 2006-2007The publication concerns a number of central HSE challenges within the oil and gas industry, and describes important events and topics in 2006 and also the challenges and areas of interest for 2007.

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HSE management in the crossfire
The oil and gas industry is currently characterized by a very high level of activity. At the same time, the access to competence and capacity is limited in important areas. Calculations show, for example, that within a few years there will be a demand for literally thousands of people with engineering skills.

"We are worried that the lack of competence and capacity in the petroleum industry will affect the level of health, safety and environment. In a situation such as this, sound HSE management in the business is paramount to ensure the safety of workers, the environment and material assets," Ognedal emphasizes.

He adds that the players must take their responsibility seriously and turn down jobs they do not have sufficient capacity to handle.

Ensure a long lifespan
More and more facilities are used or are planned to be used beyond the initial timeframe. The extended lifespan entails a significantly increased value creation from the Norwegian Shelf, but factors such as wear and tear, corrosion (rust) and disintegration (fatigue and wear) mean that the risks to health, safety and the environment are greater.

In 2007 the petroleum regulations will be altered to emphasize that ageing must be taken seriously, with particular emphasis on so-called barrier analysis. This involves charting potential dangers and accident scenarios caused by age, and also taking a closer look at how age factors into the simultaneous collapse of barrier elements.

In June 2006, the Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF) asked the PSA to develop detailed guidelines for practical compliance with the regulations regarding lifespan extension.

"It is very good that the industry has embraced the challenges that come with lifespan extension. The PSA has great expectations that the process will result in a uniform standard that both the industry and the authorities can work with," Ognedal says.

Personal injury vs. risk of major accidents
A third important challenge for the industry is to develop new ways to plan end execute activities that will contribute to further HSE improvement in the industry.

"The annual Risk Level reports confirm the impression that the HSE improvements we observed a few years ago have flattened in recent years. This means that, to continue the improvements, we need novel and creative thinking," Ognedal says.

He then warns against players in the industry measuring their performance in terms of injury frequency and is sceptical of the practice of measuring performance based on personal injury statistics.

"We know it is not good enough to just identify risk factors. Moreover, personal injury statistics do not provide the full scope of the potential for improvement. An exaggerated effort to reduce the number of personal injuries can take emphasis away from measures that contribute toward reduced risk of major accidents. The industry has to concern itself with all aspects of HSE," Ognedal says.

About the publication
The publication “Safety - status and signals 2006 - 2007" can be ordered from our library (free of charge) or downloaded from our website (pdf).

The statistics part, which has traditionally been a part of the PSA’s annual report, will be published online on 26 April, at the same time as we publish the 2006 results from the Risk Level project.

Contact in the PSA:
Inger Anda, press spokesperson
Telephone: +47 970 54 064
E-mail: inger.anda@ptil.no