Norway reviewing safety in oil and gas operations

The Norwegian government has set up a work group which will review its oil and gas industry’s safety situation.

Despite being perceived as a country with one of the most stringest oil industry safety standards in the world, the government is calling for a review following several recent incidents offshore.

“There have been several serious incidents this past year. The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway has also raised the question of whether we have reached a crossroads where safety is concerned, and the parties involved disagree on whether cost reductions are putting pressure on safety,” says Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Anniken Hauglie.

The minister has requested that a white paper is prepared to provide a full review of the state of health, safety and the environment (HSE) in the petroleum industry. In addition to an overall description of the HSE situation, the white paper will address topics such as cooperation between the parties, participation and industry accountability.

This will be the first white paper on safety on the Norwegian continental shelf since 2011.

The minister has appointed a working group with representatives of the parties involved and the authorities (including the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway and the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate).

This joint working group will describe risk and safety in the petroleum industry and examine potential new measures in a report to be published in October 2017. Ole Andreas Engen, a professor in societal safety at the University of Stavanger, will lead the working group. He’s previously led several large-scale research projects on risk regulation in petroleum activities, aviation and maritime industry.

“We have seen several examples of incidents where we believe questions need to be asked. Given our current situation, it is perhaps more important than ever that the parties collaborate to find good solutions and that the people who are most directly affected are heard from when discussing how to cut costs without compromising safety. I therefore think that a group representing the parties involved is an important starting point and that the time is right to prepare a white paper,” says Hauglie.

“My message in this is unequivocal: no measures to increase efficiency and cut costs are to be implemented to the detriment of health, safety and the environment,” concludes the minister.

While the minister did not say which incidents in particular spurred the need for the safety review, Offshore Energy Today has reported on several incidents on the NCS this year.

To remind, Statoil last week shut down production on its Heimdal field following a fire alarm. In the same week, Saipem’s Scarabeo 5 rig, working for Statoil in Norway, caught fire, and workers had to be evacuated. Earlier this month, an alarm went off aboard Statoil’s Gullfaks A platform, after smoke had been detected in the fan room.

In October, Statoil had to close production at the Gullfaks A field after gas leak. During the same month, five workers at Statoil’s Sture Terminal were exposed to poisonous gas. Also, a fire broke out in October aboard Statoil’s Statfjord A platform, in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea.

In August Eni’s Goliat field in the Barents Sea lost power after a gas leak, forcing Eni to shut production and evacuate. Production resumed in September.

In July,   Det norske oljeselskap, now known as Aker BP, had stopped production from Alvheim floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) unit, located in the North Sea offshore Norway, following a hydrocarbon leak in the pump room.

Also, a little less than a year ago, a worker was killed aboard a COSL semi-submersible drilling rig, after the rig was struck by a giant wave.

Offshore Energy Today Staff


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