Are Norwegian HES practices cost drivers?

Several reports (see for example Åm committee report) as well as industry reps like to express that Norwegian HES requirements and practices are dramtically cost increasing, see also Too much HES?  PSA on the other hand claim that this is not the case.

But what if it were the case, that Norwegian practices are cost increasing? Norwegian governments have defined an ambition for the last 15 years, that Norway shall be world leading in offshore HES, this has been echoed also by the industry itself and the unions. Do we seriously think that such an ambitious goal can be reached without increased costs? “The devil is in the details” is often claimed by many poeple, and fixing the details is not without added cost!

It is not feasible to combine world leading with no extra cost! If we don’t want the cost, then the ambitious goal will have to be abandoned. There is no “free lunch” in this regard.

One of the challenges for a fruitful discussion of this topic is that few people are aware of the wide range of issues that fall under the term “HES – Health, Environment and Safety”. Occupational accidents and injuries are perhaps what most people would think of. Major accident prevention is another element, which is very different from occupational accident prevention. Physical and psycological work environment, including (but not limited to) occupational illness is yet another quite different element. External environment protection is also quite different. Contingency planning is also included, with respect to protection of personnel, environment and assets. Security should be mentioned, but this is alften considered a separate issue.

If we look at major accident prevention, there are a few Norwegian requirements that are unique worldwide, such as the requirement to install frefall lifeboats on all permanent installations. Another example is the fire water supply capacity, which has a special consideration according to Norwegian regulations. These requirements are after all relatively few, and the cost increase is limited, at least as long as this is considered during design.

Oil spill contingency planning and systems are also special in Norway, which is natural according to a very long coastline, many vulnerable ecosystems, and cold climate in the North.

The use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in order to prevent occupational injuries is not at a level far beyond other countries, but training requirements and competency may be somewhat higher on NCS. Again, not dramatic differences compared to other countries.

That leaves us with working environment, where the requirements reflect the Norwegian working Environment Act, initially stipulated in 1977. The requirements of this Law are unique internationally, and the implementation of these requirements on Norwegian offshore installations are also unique worldwide. The cost implications are significant in this area in particular. This is further emphasized by the special shift patterns which Norwegian unions and companies have agreed to, which is not an effect of the Norwegian regulations.

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