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Under a single hat - interview with mr. Magne Ognedal

Norway's Mr Safety - Magne Ognedal (pictured) - has been appointed to head the new Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA). And the creation of this agency on 1 January coincides with the unification of regulatory responsibility for health, safety and the environment in the Norwegian petroleum sector.

The NPD has been responsible for both resource management and HSE supervision on the Norwegian continental shelf since 1972, but this role has not extended to landbased petroleum facilities.

Remote operation and new technology mean that the distinction between activities offshore and on land is being eradicated.

The PSA's extended authority covers safety, emergency response and the working environment in all parts of Norway's oil and gas industry.

That includes the onshore plants at Kårstø, Sture, Kollsnes, Mongstad, Tjeldbergodden and Melkøya along the western and northern coast, and the Slagentangen refinery near Oslo.

"We know that what happens on land is significant for activity offshore, and vice versa" says Mr Ognedal, who was named directorgeneral of the PSA on 21 November.

"So HSE work will be strengthened now that a single regulator has become responsible for all aspects of this activity."

The 60-year-old has been with the NPD since 1974 and was its safety director from 1980 to 1999. Since the recent reorganisation of the agency, he has headed its supervision of activities.


Magne Ognedal, PSA
"The aim is to make the PSA noticed
both offshore and on land nationally
and internationally - as early as our
first year of operation, says mr.
Magne Ognedal.
Regarded by many as the industry's "Mr Safety" because of his long involvement at home and abroad, Mr Ognedal's goal is to create a professional, technically able, orderly and innovative agency.

"Collaboration with the various parties involved will be important, and we'll pursue that in a good and inclusive manner," he says.

"Familiarising the industry with our regulatory role is another priority. To achieve that, we'll be making detailed introductory visits to the land-based plants, unions and management, and the principal organisations.

"The aim is to make the PSA noticed both offshore and on land nationally and internationally - as early as our first year of operation.

"We're going to be an agency exercising the necessary judgement and flexibility while being clear on the most important issues. We'll also be predictable and treat everyone equally."

He denies that the new PSA will thereby be "stricter" or raise the HSE threshold by comparison with today's NPD regime.

"But we'll be sticking to the statutory objective of achieving a continuous improvement in the level of HSE in the petroleum industry."

With an establishment equivalent to about 140 full-time staff, the PSA will have plenty to do from the start. Objectives for 2004 include helping to reduce the level of offshore risk and ensuring that HSE is taken into account in change and restructuring processes.

Others include helping to create a good safety culture in the industry and formulating appropriate regulations and frame conditions for its operations.

The PSA must also establish and operationalise supervision of petroleum operations on land, and extend a holistic approach to challenges both offshore and ashore.

In addition, it will cooperate on safety issues nationally and internationally, draw up a White Paper on HSE and develop its completely new organisation.

"Our resources won't stretch to everything we might like to do, and we'll have to prioritise in line with guidance from the ministry," says Mr Ognedal.

"The organization must accordingly be tailored to our purpose. Initially, however, we must accept that it'll take a preliminary form."

Issues previously dealt with by one agency will now be assessed by two bodies, with the NPD evaluating a plan for development and operation (PDO), for instance, from a resource perspective.

Meanwhile, the PSA will consider the way this proposal fulfils safety, emergency response and working environment requirements, and report to the labour ministry.

But both the latter and the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, which oversees the NPD, have stressed that the two agencies will cooperate to prevent unnecessary bureaucracy and delays. And they must avoid duplicating expertise.

"In my role as head of the PSA, I have to draw up an overview of the expertise in the NPD which we can utilise - and vice versa," notes Mr Ognedal.

"On that basis, we'll be concluding a collaboration agreement. And we must define the areas where cooperation with the NPD would be appropriate.

"Some obvious examples include PDOs, plans for installation and operation (PIOs), assessment of players, licence awards and the late life issue.

"But the NPD will be just one of several agencies with which we'll be collaborating in this way."

Mr Ognedal has a broad involvement in HSE bodies, including Norway's Safety Forum, the North Sea Offshore Authorities' Forum (NSOAF) and the International Regulators' Forum (IRF).

He will now be assessing his role in this type of activity, in consultation with the labour ministry.