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From conflict resolution to basic tool

The project on trends in risk level in Norway’s petroleum activity (RNNP) was intended to settle a dispute. Today, this annual report represents a unique instrument for oil-related safety management.

This article was originally published in
Safety - Status and Signals 2012-2013

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Sharp disagreement prevailed between the various sides in Norwegian oil industry during the late 1990s about whether the level of safety in this sector was improving or deteriorating.

Long and fairly heated discussions took place, with the unions arguing vehemently that the industry was becoming more hazardous while the companies maintained that it had never been safer.

For its part, the PSA as regulator was unsure about how the picture should be interpreted.

It accordingly established a project to acquire and systematise data about the level of safety. This was meant to provide answers which the sides could agree on and use as a working tool.

An initial report was published in 2001, based on input from a variety of contributors
who possessed great expertise on risk an safety. These included operators, other companies in the petroleum industry, relevant government agencies, consultants, research institutes and educational bodies.

The report lived up to expectations. Safety Forum members could cease timeconsuming debates on the direction of developments and concentrate instead on the facts revealed by the project.

Now a permanent process in the PSA, rather than a one-off project, the RNNP primarily identifies trends, both for the industry as a whole and broken down at various levels.

And annual publication of the report helps to ensure that these developments can be monitored with a considerable degree of confidence.

The RNNP has become an important management tool for all participants in the petroleum sector. Its findings are valuable for the PSA in planning supervision and developing regulations.

This process has been in steady development from the start, with new risk components added – most recently in 2010, with a separate report on the threat of acute oil and chemical spills.

An important aspect of the RNNP has been a recognition that traditional indicators, such as personal injury statistics, are of limited use in measuring major accident risk.

Instead, this process analyses a number of underlying indicators which are significant for assessing the chances of such incidents. A complicated formula, where these factors are weighted in accordance with their contribution to the overall picture, yields composite indicator for major accident risk.

Viewed over a series of years, this in turn provides a clear picture of the trend – which has been declining during the past decade, so that the risk has roughly halved over the period.

Comprehensive data
The main  report is published every April. Totalling more than 400 pages, this comprehensive document comprises two sections covering the NCS and the landbased plants respectively. A summary report of almost 50 pages published for the NCS in both Norwegian and English.

RNNP risk data related to acute oil and chemical spills are provided in a separate report in Norwegian every autumn.

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