Neighboring Countries Will Cooperate on North Sea Regulations

The authorities in the North Sea countries are cooperating in their search for systems that will make it simpler to move drilling installations across shelf borders. Following an initiative from a working group consisting of the shelf authorities in Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Great Britain and Germany, the international organization for drilling contractors (IADC) has developed a template for an application form for the use of mobile drilling installations.

This will form the basis for the authorities' considerations in all the countries involved. As part of this work, the authorities in Norway and Great Britain took an initiative to have a comparison carried out between the regulations for mobile installations in the two countries.

Smedvig ASA accepted this assignment, which has now been completed. The comparison is based on the Norwegian voluntary system of Acknowledgement of Compliance (SUT) for mobile installations, and on the British system of approval of installations, called Safety Case.

The comparison shows that there are significant similarities between the actual requirements in the two countries' regulations and only a small number of differences. The Norwegian regulations appear to be more detailed than the British.

One of the differences is that Norwegian regulations require remote operation of pipe handling, and this is not yet a requirement on the British side. Nor is there a parallel in the British regulations to the clear Norwegian requirements regarding working hours.

British authorities require that safety critical elements must normally be verified by an independent third party, and there is no direct correspondence to this in the Norwegian regulations.

Smedvig ASA hopes that their work can help the authorities in the two countries to agree on a joint approval of control, verification and documentation carried out in one of the countries.

Correspondingly, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate and the British Health and Safety Executive hope that Smedvig's study will form the basis for a simplification of the way the authorities process applications and also improve the quality of the applications, says Magne Ognedal, NPD's Director for Supervision of Activities.

He would like the work that has been done to be part of the foundation for so-called "HS&E Cases" (templates for agreement) which can be used in all the countries surrounding the North Sea.

The NPD is organizing an event on 29 August, where the NPD and Smedvig will present the results of the study carried out, implications for the industry, and the way ahead.


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