The work of integrating StatoilHydro must ensure that operations are acceptable and comply with Norwegian regulations, said Magne Ognedal, Director-General of the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA).
Some turbulence has been experienced in the merged oil group over the integration process, both offshore and at its land-based plants. The unions are concerned that a new operating model will lead to downsizing and a lower standard for health, safety and the environment.
While the PSA has a dedicated team monitoring StatoilHydro’s integration, Ognedal makes it clear that organizing operations is the company’s own responsibility. The PSA has no mandate to approve or review its assessments.
"But it’s important that the dimensioning and level of expertise ensure that operations are sound and comply with the regulatory requirements," he emphasised.
"Each installation must have technical integrity as well as the expertise and capacity required to operate acceptably around the clock. If our audits identify faults or omissions, they will be clearly pointed out."
Both exploration drilling and offshore production are moving ever further north along the Norwegian coast. The Barents Sea is a vulnerable area, where both the environment and other industries such as fishing could be harmed by unwanted discharges from oil and gas facilities.
Regulations for the petroleum industry on the Norwegian continental shelf are risk-based, with reference to the probability of something happening and the consequences if it does.
Ognedal points out that the impact of an accident in the far north could be greater than for a similar incident further south.
"If we don’t strive to reduce the probability of things going wrong, risk in the north will increase. That's unacceptable, because the minimum risk level must the be the same throughout the NCS.
"This means that the industry must address risk differently up north. It can’t position just any drilling unit off the coast of Finnmark.
"The risk of major accidents as well as the equipment and modes of work deployed must be planned and managed so that we avoid harm to health, the natural environment or financial assets. That's a challenge both for the industry and for us at the PSA."
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