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Seminar: Industry experts can do more to prevent harm to the environment

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) is challenging central technical experts in the petroleum industry to pay more attention to prevention. "We think that much more can be done to prevent accidents that can harm the environment."

This was emphasised by Director of Supervisory Activities Finn Carlsen during the seminar "When accidents threaten the environment", held on Wednesday, 11 February.

The seminar was a joint initiative by the PSA and the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority (SFT), aimed at everyone involved in planning, design, construction, operation and maintenance in the petroleum activities. A chock-full list of participants confirmed the great interest in the main topic of the program: Future opportunities, current practice, the role of risk analysis and technological development.

Seamless cooperation
"Prevention has to be included on the agenda for technical experts in the areas of drilling and wells, subsea technology and process technology," said the PSA's director of supervisory activities.

He pointed out that preventing damage to the environment usually goes hand in hand with preventing accidents that lead to personal injuries. Carlsen called for closer cooperation across all technical disciplines and by all experts who work with environmental risk analyses.

Can achieve more
"The industry possesses significant competence and does a lot of good work. But more can be achieved. The environmental experts must be even more active in the technical expert groups, and these groups must strive harder to integrate focus on the environment and accident prevention into their work," said Carlsen.

He challenged the companies to be very clear in their responses regarding which measures are implemented – and how they work – in future meetings with the supervisory authorities.

Recent threats
The oil spills from the Statfjord A field and Draugen are recent examples of accidents that threatened the environment, and that could have been avoided by prevention efforts and learning from previous mistakes.

The seminar was intended to be an arena to discuss this specific issue: How the petroleum industry handles risk – and what is done to prevent damage/injuries.

Tore Andre Svidal from Aker Solutions showed examples of future design solutions that can contribute to reducing the risk of accidental spills from process facilities. Among other things, he talked about the development of solutions for extreme cold and tough climate conditions.

 Eni Norge used Goliat as an example of preventing acute spills in the engineering and design phase, while StatoilHydro shared its experiences from Tordis and leaking injection wells.

DNV addressed the role of risk analysis, while Scandpower discussed how consideration for the external environment is safeguarded and emphasized in risk analyses.

External and internal goals
Editor and adviser Hans Henrik Ramm discussed consideration for the environment as a competitive advantage and a social responsibility.

Ramm noted that clear conflicts can exist between social responsibility based on what the companies themselves have defined as ethically correct and important, and the expectations created by leading players in society at large, such as the media and special interest organisations.

"The companies in the petroleum industry must be more aware of these conflicting goals," according to Ramm. "While damage control often receives plenty of attention, the benefits of preventing injuries and accidents are not always as easy to see. We rarely see stories in the media where everything works," he said. Ramm also said that:

"In terms of safety, it is also important that the companies can maintain focus on their core competence by resisting outside demands to embark upon completely different fields, when such fields are not a natural extension of what they know best.

Great interest
The interest in the seminar on major accidents in an environmental perspective surpassed the PSA's expectations, and there were not enough places to accommodate all the interested parties.

This shows that there is a great deal of interest in these issues, which is very gratifying. Facilitating learning and sharing experience are among the PSA's most important tasks. Therefore, plans will be made to organise a similar event in the fall.

The program and all of the presentations can be found in the link box. You can also read more about the PSA's role and the external environment.

Provide your input regarding topics and content for similar environmental seminars in the future.

Contact in the PSA:
Ingvill Røsland
E-mail: ingvill.rosland@ptil.no