Photo: Illustration; Source: The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA)

Offshore watchdog earmarks funds for better incident follow-up in oil & gas

Norwegian offshore safety regulator has decided to invest $1.9 million on an annual basis in a drive to advance and further progress the follow-up of serious incidents in the oil and gas sector to avoid repetition and improve safety.

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) announced on Monday that it intends to spend NOK 17 million or over $1.9 million annually on strengthening and further developing the follow-up of serious incidents in this sector.

Finn Carlsen, director of professional competence at the PSA, explained: “Serious incidents affect many people. It’s very important that the whole industry, and the PSA, learn from them in order to prevent anything similar happening again. We’re now launching a wide-ranging effort. The goal is to become better at learning lessons so that we can prevent new incidents from occurring and ensure a continuous improvement in the level of safety.”

The Norwegian regulator confirmed that the work on following up serious incidents involves strengthening and further developing notification and follow-up of incidents; investigation methodology; tools for analysing and assessing trends related to RNNP data on trends in risk level in the petroleum activity; sharing information on incidents; and capacity and resources for following up serious incidents.

“When an incident occurs, it’s important to secure the essential information. That’s why investigating incidents is the most important tool we have. The quality of such investigations is good today, but we see that it could be even better. So this is one of the areas we’re working on and will continue to seek improvements in as part of our overall commitment,” added Carlsen.

To this end, the government has earmarked funds from 2022 to strengthen and continue developing the PSA’s work in following up on serious incidents. According to Carlsen, investigating each incident is not enough as these incidents need to be put in context.

“Knowledge is the key to improvement, and we’ll be conducting a number of projects related to investigation methods – how we identify what’s important information. We’ll also be working on expertise, and on ensuring that investigators have competence in the latest methods,” remarked Carlsen.

The director of professional competence at the PSA further elaborated that the RNNP analysis tool helps the regulator to seek out possible trends. Afterwards, the obtained information can be used to prevent repetition while achieving further development and improvements in the oil and gas sector.

“In addition, it’s very important that the information is communicated to the users. Digital solutions and further development of those already in use by the PSA and the recipient side will be part of the commitment there. We believe the contribution we’re now making from the Norwegian side will also be important in boosting these efforts across the whole petroleum sector worldwide,” noted Carlsen.

Based on the offshore watchdog’s latest statements, this commitment is part of an international drive, as the PSA is working with a number of safety regulators in other countries, including through the International Regulators’ Forum, and has challenged the petroleum industry globally to get better at investigating and learning from incidents.

“This is definitely not a project we own alone. We must achieve an enhancement here through the tripartite collaboration between companies, unions and government. We’ll work closely and well with both unions and employer organisations to achieve an improvement,” emphasized Carlsen, explaining the PSA expects the rest of the industry to contribute to this work.

“We expect to see knowledge projects and competence enhancements out in the industry as well, so that we obtain even better investigation quality, improved quality and openness in information sharing, and not least even greater and more active use of the results for achieving good solutions so that we avoid similar incidents happening again,” concluded Carlsen.