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Success in Vietnam

A project to boost safety in the Vietnamese oil and gas industry has been hailed as one of the most successful in the history of the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad). Headed by the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA), this work has now concluded after helping to develop good systems for following up safety over the past 15 years.

The PSA regularly supports Norway’s development cooperation authorities in projects to assist Third-World oil nations in establishing routines for overall safety management.

Norway’s safety regime is highly respected, and help with petroleum administration is frequently sought internationally from the PSA and other Norwegian government agencies.

“We’ve seen our collaboration with Vietnam bear fruits over the years,” reports Gudmund Rydning, who has been project manager for the PSA’s involvement with the south-east Asian country.

The background was a request from the Vietnamese government, which contacted Norad in 1994 with a desire for safety support in the petroleum sector.

Principal goals were to establish a sustainable and efficient management of health, safety and the environment in Vietnam’s oil and gas industry, so that the risk of personal injury, major accidents and environmental damage is minimised.

The project has been a collaboration between the PSA, the Vietnamese government and Petrovietnam, the state oil company established in 1977.

With several dozen subsidiary and associate companies, the latter has almost 50 000 employees and runs all the country’s oil and gas activity plus its coal-fired electricity and hydropower.

 “Petrovietnam has been a very attentive partner, which has succeeded during the project period in implementing good management and a number of measures,” says Mr Rydning.

“Combined with the government’s commitment, this will hopefully benefit the Vietnamese petroleum industry for a long time to come.

“The feedback we’ve received both during and at the conclusion of this collaboration is an inspiration. And we’ve learnt a lot ourselves through the partnership.”

He notes that both the progress and pace of change experienced by Vietnam during the past 15 years have been formidable.

“Demand for energy has risen steadily, with Petrovietnam serving as the engine for this part of the country’s social development.”

Magne Ognedal, the PSA’s director general, and Øyvind Tuntland, its director of professional competence, recently visited Vietnam for the official ceremony marking the end of the project.

“The feedback we received made me proud of what we’ve been able to contribute,” says Mr Ognedal. “It’s rewarding to work on projects with such specific results.

“All the goals defined at the start in 1996 have been reached. This success underlines not least that the Norwegian model for petroleum administration can be adapted to other cultures.

“Our regime has been developed and improved over many years. It’s gratifying to see that our approach forms the basis for government agencies and industries in other countries.”

“But basic knowledge of cultures and role positioning in the relevant country is important for success,” adds Mr Tuntland, who has led the professional aspects of the project throughout.

“We’ve placed great emphasis on this. Knowledge and cultural understanding, openness, willingness and the ability to collaborate are key reasons for the good outcome."

The project has gone through three phases during its 15-year life, all under the PSA’s management. Norway’s Climate and Pollution Agency (Klif) has also participated from the start.

A management committee for the project comprised representatives from the PSA, Klif and Petrovietnam, while Det Norske Veritas (DNV) and Statoil have contributed to the process.

Overall, the work has cost about NOK 55 million provided in the form of Norwegian development cooperation funds.

For more details about activities in the project, see the presentation given at the concluding ceremony.