The NSOAF was founded in 1989 with the aim of ensuring continuous improvement in health, safety and the environment for petroleum activities in these waters.
The members of the NSOAF meet for an annual plenary meeting in which activities are summed up and new tasks initiated and discussed.
This work primarily takes place through three permanent working groups, which hold meetings as and when required, usually twice per year.
The health and safety working group (NSOAF-HS&E) is chaired by the Netherlands. Its work includes contributing to a continuous improvement in safety and the working environment, harmonisation of regulatory requirements/reduction in administrative burdens, and the transfer of experience between regulators. This group is also responsible for joint meetings between the NSOAF and associations representing the exploration and production industry.
The objective of the group is to contribute to:
The working group also works on other issues of common interest to the authorities.
During 2015 and 2016, the working group discussed challenges shared by the oil and gas industries in the different countries. Challenges associated with safe operation and maintenance of ageing facilities following a fall in oil prices was chosen as a topic for further work and follow-up.
This provided the foundation for an audit series in 2017 on the topic of "maintenance for safe operations", with a common basis and questions adapted to the individual countries’ regulations and languages. The audits were then conducted as part of the ordinary audit programme.
The joint report describes the audit series and summarises findings and learning points. Findings from the audits are presented in the report as good or bad practice in order to indicate improvement points and potential transfer of experience.
The safety training working group (NSOAF-TG) is chaired by Denmark. It works to achieve mutual acceptance for the safety training requirements applied in the North Sea countries. Agreement has been reached among the countries on which elements of the training programmes are mutually acceptable, and which elements have different requirements.
This applies to basic safety and emergency preparedness training as well as various types of special instruction. The work forms a basis for further simplification of training requirements and schemes for mutual acceptance of training modules across continental shelf borders.
The working group on drilling and well control (NSOAF-WWG) was formally established in 2006 and has been chaired by the UK from June 2011 to June 2013.
It exchanges information and cooperates on safety and working environment aspects relating to drilling and well operations, well integrity and blowout prevention.
The group’s activities will also contribute to continuous improvement of safety and the working environment during drilling operations, well workovers and other well-related activities. In addition, it is working to reduce administrative burdens for companies which operate on several continental shelves in the North Sea area.