PSA Focuses on Safety to Lower Risk in Barents Sea Production

At the Safety Forum annual conference the topic was that the risk associated with oil production in the Barents Sea must be as low as possible.

"Our regulations are good enough, but it is important that the players do their jobs and follow up in putting this into practice," says discipline leader Ingrid E. Arstad in the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA).

Arstad will be among those on the panel at the Safety Forum's annual conference, where she will meet others including World Wide Fund for Nature's (WWF) secretary-general Rasmus Hansson for a debate on oil activity in the Barents Sea. Like the other environmental organizations, WWF opposes allowing exploration drilling in arctic ocean areas.

"The PSA should be extremely concerned with acting in an objective and neutral manner, and not joining up with the oil team," says Hansson.

Hansson expects more offensive supervision, "The PSA must present the harsh realities and its experience as regards the behaviour of the oil industry and the environmental risks that exist. The PSA has a high level of expertise in safety and nonconformities, which are very important areas when evaluating environmental consequences," says Hansson.

Discipline leader Ingrid E. Arstad emphasizes that professional integrity is a fundamental value for the Authority.

"And we don't compromise on that. This is not to say that we never make mistakes, but no one should doubt our professional independence, which is rooted in ambitious HSE regulations and a clear mandate to help ensure that accidents do not occur - also in the Barents Sea, says Arstad.

The risk that something could happen can never be totally eliminated. The point of departure today is that, if the industry complies with the regulations, it is possible to carry out responsible petroleum activity in the Barents Sea.

"Most important is to prevent accidents. However, if a spill should occur, the spill must be limited as much as possible and must be stopped as fast as possible. Lessons learned from successes and failures in accident prevention work from all of the petroleum activities must be utilized to achieve the goal of the lowest possible risk in the Barents Sea," says Arstad.

WWF's Rasmus Hansson has already concluded that oil activity in the far north is not responsible, "The natural values are too great to subject them to the risk associated with this industry," he believes.