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Transparency: Open and honest

Norwegians tend to take their country’s tradition of openness for granted, but the significance of this part of the national culture must not be underestimated.


This article was published in the publication "Safety - status and signals 2010-2011".

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Norway is a transparent nation. An open approach has been and remains afundamental principle of its governmentadministration. That has rubbed off on the country’s biggest industry.

Demands for information sharing, reporting and exchanging knowledge doubtless felt foreign to the international oil companies who arrived on the NCS in the 1960s and 1970s.

But the rules of the Norwegian game were the same regardless of whether one’s head office was in Houston or Stavanger.

Information
The openness principle is central to the PSA’s information policy, which specifies that data provided to the industry, the media and the general public will be open, available and reliable.

As far as is possible and acceptable, the agency will inform people about the industry and reply to questions. That carries an obligation.

Website
The PSA’s website is an important channel for openness, presenting all consents and AoCs issued as well as every audit and investigation report from the agency.

In addition, circular letters are posted to the site along with articles about measures and initiatives being pursued by the PSA.

The most important goal of the site and the agency’s other information work is to contribute to experience transfer and knowledge building about safety issues in the oil and gas sector.

Archive
The PSA’s central electronic archive is at the heart of its information flow. All documents, whether received or sent, are registered and recorded there.

This archive also handles the many requests for access to information, which are rising year by year. A new record of 2 784 applications was set in 2010.

Virtually all of these are granted, with only 128 refused wholly or in part last year – a good indication that the PSA is firmly committed to the principle of greater transparency and the ambition of the Storting (parliament) for more openness in government administration.

Cooperation
Openness contributes to information exchange and learning, creates credibility and lays the basis for cooperation between companies, unions and government.

This represents the very essence of the approach taken by Norwegian regulators to the oil and gas industry.

Being open about challenges, problem areas, incidents and near misses is also an important requirement for efforts to reduce risk.

This article was published in the publication "Safety - status and signals 2010-2011".

 

Well visited
Figures for the number of hits on the PSA’s website confirm that this is a very important channel for spreading information about who it is and what it does.
The following were registered in 2010:

•• • • • • Source: Google Analytics

Tussle over transparency
- Organisations such as Transparency International, Publish What You Pay and the Tax Justice Network are in the front line of the battle.
- The UN’s Global Compact initiative also plays an important role in this context.
- Much of the effort is focused on exposing large cash flows, with the aim of combating the corruption which means that huge sums earned from petroleum end up in the wrong hands.