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What is supervision?

Supervision embraces much more than audits of offshore facilities and land-based plants. This term refers to all contact between us as the regulator and the regulated object.

Photo from supervision

It thereby covers every activity which provides us with the necessary basis for determining whether the company concerned has accepted its responsibility to operate in an acceptable manner.

This supervisory responsibility encompasses the whole petroleum industry life-cycle, from exploration drilling through development and operation to cessation and removal.

Our supervision is most visible when we visit offshore facilities, land-based plants or fabrication sites to ensure that the companies are complying with the regulations.

But our supervisory activities also include:

  • meetings with the companies
  • acquiring data about accidents and incidents
  • considering company development plans
  • applications for consent to conduct various activities
  • investigating accidents.

What is supervised?
We supervise all players in the Norwegian petroleum industry. In theory, this applies to all operators, contractors and vessel owners.

Nevertheless, our attention is primarily concentrated on the oil companies acting as operators, because they have an overarching responsibility to ensure that all its contractors and sub-contractors comply with the regulations.

Our regulatory authority covers the whole Norwegian continental shelf (NCS), as well as petroleum-related plants on land in Norway.

We supervise:

  • more than 75 permanent installations and over 40 mobile units on the NCS
  • eight major land-based petroleum plants
  • roughly 300 subsea installations
  • about 14 000 kilometres of oil and gas pipelines.

With around 170 staff, we are clearly unable to exercise direct supervision of all these facilities in the course of a year. Nor should that be necessary.

Our most important job is to check that the companies themselves are accepting their own responsibility.

We give priority to supervising those areas which have proved to involve the highest level of risk. This approach is known as risk-based supervision.

How is our supervision conducted?
Most of our practical supervisory work involves dialogue with the industry – asking questions about plans, analyses, documentation and information. In addition come cross-industry initiatives intended to encourage positive developments in a specific technical area of the industry.

Notification of a supervisory activity, such as an audit, is usually given some time in advance, and an audit normally begins before our team starts its fieldwork. These preparations often take the form of meetings with the relevant company, which usually involve both management and union representatives.

Moreover, meetings are usually held with the safety delegate service when visiting an offshore facility or a land-based plant in order to ensure that the views of the workforce are obtained.

The results of these assessments are presented in an audit report, which is used as a basis for deciding how to follow up the findings made. It could, for instance, be appropriate to issue an order. This is a decision on measures which the company is legally obliged to implement. See also responding to regulatory breaches.

As mentioned above, we place great emphasis on dialogue with companies and unions in the industry. Several important fora have accordingly been established for such tripartite collaboration.

Organisation: heads of supervision and contacts
We have organised our supervision responsibility in six different teams. Each of these deals with a portfolio of industry players, and comprises relevant specialists from our organisation.

A team is headed by a head of supervision with product responsibility and individual decision-making authority. It also has personnel who serve as contacts for a defined set of players.