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The PSA goes onshore ? with more than one hand to hold on to

An interview with two professionals in the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) - project manager Sigvart Zachariassen (pictured) and Per Låhne, who transferred to the PSA from the Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning (DSB) on 1 January.


At a time when the PSA must have a new organizational structure put in place based on the gathering of experience and debates concerning values and structures, both management and professionals have their hands full with new challenges to be tackled. Some of these are tasks we have been assigned because the PSA now have supervisory authority for eight land facilities from Slagentangen and Kårstø in the south, via Sture, Mongstad, Kollsnes, Nyhamna and Tjeldbergodden - to Melkøya in the north.

A separate project team has been set up to prepare both our own organization, the government bodies we cooperate with and each land facility for the change in the authorities' roles and responsibilities. To ensure smooth communication between the land facilities in this initial phase, we have appointed special contact persons for the facilities

Clarify roles and responsibilities

As the project manager for this work, principal engineer Sigvart Zachariassen (Pictured) has a very busy time keeping track of the work and making sure there is good progress. Just now the most important thing for him is to get resource people from the team onto the facilities ? so that contact can be made with key personnel on each facility.

"It is particularly important in this phase to maintain good contact and help the management and employees on the facilities become comfortable with us as a supervisory authority," he says.

Sigvart Zachariassen

"We must make it clear what the changes actually consist of, we must clarify roles and responsibilities and we must introduce ourselves properly. At the same time we need to gain a better understanding of the activities taking place on the facilities, appreciate the particular challenges they are facing and see how we, from our position, can assist them.

"The supervision responsibility and contractor management are two of the problem areas we have to address. Long contract chains, where it is difficult for the operators to keep track of and control the work in hectic building and installation phases, have been reported as problems, and so has experience feedback. Working hours may well represent a special challenge ? particularly when it comes to processing applications in a sensible way without using too many resources," explains the project manager.
He points out that there have been particular difficulties in complying with the working hours regulations for work offshore, but that the regime there is much more stable, with permanent shift arrangements, than it is on land.

"We do expect, however, that the operator will assume a clear role in coordinating such processes ? not least in assessing the systems in light of HES consequences for people and the consequences in terms of safety for the activity. Our supervision of the petroleum activities offshore is risk-based ? and that does not change just because we go ashore," Zachariassen emphasizes.

Cooperation and transfer of experience


Continuous communication and cooperation with the Directorate of Labour Inspection (AT) 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 ? leading to a good "hand over".
"Scaffolding work also represents a special challenge on many land facilities during the building and construction phase, given the scale we are talking of here. The AT has special expertise and insight in this area, and we are keen to learn from them. Quite a lot of blasting activity is also taking place, and we lack special expertise on that at present. In such areas we will consider drawing on the expertise from the AT and the DSB.

"We are already well underway establishing cooperation and coordination agreements with a number of government bodies to help us fulfill the Storting's (Norwegian Parliament's) expressed expectation that we will "assume responsibility for powerful and clear coordination". At the same time we are eager to establish safe and efficient channels of communication with the trade unions and the safety delegates on the facilities. Our senior authorities have pinpointed participation and partner cooperation as preconditions and principles for our work ? both offshore, and now on land," Sigvart Zachariassen concludes.

New professionals provide continuity


The PSA has received three new employees from the DSB. One of these is Per Låhne (pictured).

"By participating actively in the project group with regard to both regulations, information and supervision, we represent continuity vis-a-vis the facilities and their management and employees.
"By participating actively in the project group with regard to both regulations, information and supervision, we represent continuity vis-a-vis the facilities and their management and employees.
"By participating actively in the project group with regard to both regulations, information and supervision, we represent continuity vis-a-vis the facilities and their management and employees.
"We have enjoyed many years' constructive cooperation with resource persons from the PSA ? when they were in the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate and we were in the Directorate for Fire and Explosion Prevention (DBE). Internal control was the basis of our work with the industry as early as in the 80s, and our work has always been in line with yours as regards regulations philosophy and supervision strategy," Låhne says.


Having graduated as a chartered engineer from NTNU in the area of chemical engineering at the end of the 60s, with 12 years' experience in the industry (Esso and Saga Petrokjemi), long-time professional responsibility for the onshore sector in the earlier DBE and ten years as head of our Norwegian authority coordination body which monitors consequences in Norway of the so-called Seveso Directive, he is well equipped for his task as "experience communicator" between the DSB and the PSA. Being responsible for authority coordination has also led to participation in EU`s authority committee CCA (Committee of Competent Authorities), which has two meetings annually in the member country which has the presidency.

Together with his two DSB colleagues, he now spends at least two days in Stavanger and the PSA and works from his home office the remaining three ? if the work permits. Although he now must hand over the leadership to a previous colleague in the DSB, he will continue the work in the Norwegian authority coordination body ? but this time on behalf of the PSA. With his PSA hat on he will also start off a two-day seminar on the Major Accident Regulations to help the different supervisory authorities achieve a common understanding of these.

"Make good use of us"

"You have spent many years working in the same place under well-ordered working conditions ? how do you feel about your transfer to a new government body and the life of a commuter?"
"Once it had been decided to establish the DSB and the decision had been made to transfer the supervisory authority to the new Petroleum Safety Authority Norway, I came to see this as a golden opportunity to let new brooms have a go, for instance as head of the above-mentioned coordination body. At the same time it is interesting to learn something new and to share what I have acquired of knowledge and experience over many years."

"Commuting is fine. We are three people here in the same situation, and we share what remains of spare time in that we have a common base here in town. At home there is only my wife and I now, plus Bessie the dog. The youngest of our three adult sons have now left home. We live on Nøtterøy, but prefer to spend our weekends in our holiday house in the mountains. I have always loved outdoor life and sports and have got a lot of pleasure out of parent support functions in various sports, like skiing and football. These interests are shared by the whole family and they are now being taken up by the wider family, which includes two longed-for grandchildren."

"We intend to be flexible in this hectic start-up phase vis-a-vis the land facilities, and we naturally expect the PSA to use make good use of us over the next two years. That is the provisional employment period for the three of us from DSB. The director of the PSA, Magne Ognedal has said it is his ambition to draw the best elements out of both government bodies' work and experience, in order to benefit the work on the land facilities. And that is something we take as a challenge!