White paper about HES

The Ministry of labour and social affairs in Norway published 6th April its white paper about health, environment and safety in the petroleum sector, including both offshore and onshore facilities, but with the main emphasis on offshore facilities.

The report gives a good overview of what are important aspects with respect to prevention and protection of people, structures, external environment as well as working environment, and an important description of how the HES in the sector has become outstanding, at least until recently.

But it is somewhat surprising that the only concrete proposal made by the Ministry in the report is to increase the authorities’ supervisory activities, such as audits, in relation to use of construction and maintenance vessels in the petroleum industry within the framework of the petroleum law.

We support this proposal, because such supervisory activities in practice have been non-existent, in spite having ample opportunities for conducting such activities within current legislation, and in spite of the increased use of such vessels during the last few years.

But it is surprising that the Ministry finds no other actions to be wanted. The report describes a number of important actions that the parties should take or emphasize more in the future, which are all important. But it would have been expected that the authorities would take a more active leading role.

The future will increasingly be influenced by automation, digitalization and normally unmanned operations, not only of wellhead installations, but also production facilities, probably within the next few years. It would not have been surprising if the Ministry had wanted to prepare for this future which may be radically different from our past experience, and thus require new solutions, also in risk governance. The only aspect of this future that is included in the report is IT/cyber security.