The RNNP figures presented in April contained much which was positive. PSA director general Anne Myhrvold urged the industry to make active use of this material, and warned against being resting on its laurels.
Good is not good enough
The PSA’s major annual study of the level of risk on the NCS has indicated in recent years that developments are moving in the right direction – and the 2014 results were no exception.
They showed progress with virtually all the indicators – for both major accident and working environment risk – on land as well as offshore.
“The trend is good, no doubt about that,” says Myhrvold. “We had a positive year for safety in 2014, without major accidents or fatalities in the petroleum sector.
“Progress has been encouraging for a number of years. But it’s important that we don’t allow ourselves to be blinded by excellent results.”
The present year was only 14 days old when the first serious incident occurred, with the unintentional launch of a lifeboat from the Mærsk Giant rig. Nobody was injured, but the PSA resolved to conduct an investigation.
A series of further cases followed in subsequent weeks. By the end of April, the PSA had started no less than six enquiries in four months.
When this issue went to press, the majority of these investigations had yet to be completed. So it is too early to draw any conclusions about their causes, whether they were isolated cases or had common features.
However, one thing is certain – 2015 has developed in a very different direction from that indicated by the RNNP data.
“Regardless of the reasons, a contrast exists between the good RNNP results for 2014 and the flood of serious incidents at the start of this year,” Myhrvold emphasises. “This clearly illustrates that a high level of safety is not something you can bank on.
“Safety demands a continuous commitment to maintaining and further developing its existing level. If we stand still, we’ll go into reverse.”
She stresses that the industry must keep up its efforts to reduce major accident and working environment risk, so that the positive trend is not lost. The RNNP occupies a key place in this work.
“Since we launched this process in the late 1990s, it’s acquired an important place in the industry and ranks today as a significant management tool for everyone involved.
“We see that the sector has got better at using the RNNP results. That’s positive. But we also see clear variations. Some companies are purposeful, others need to make a bigger commitment.
“If we’re going to achieve a good and lasting improvement, we have to pull together. The RNNP findings must be used at industry, company and facility levels.”
Right track with risk
Good progress in a number of areas emerges from the RNNP data for 2014. Some of the most important results are summarised below.
- The major accident indicator* was at its lowest level since the RNNP process began.
- Hydrocarbon leaks larger than 0.1 kilograms per second totalled seven on the NCS and the same number on land – the second-lowest figure recorded. None had a particularly big potential, and the risk contribution from hydrocarbon leaks on the NCS was the lowest ever.
- Well control incidents registered increased from 13 in 2013 to 17. Viewed in relation to the level of activity, this represents an increase for both exploration and production drilling. However, 16 of the incidents were in the lowest risk category.
- Serious personal injuries showed a slight increase offshore from 2013, but last year’s level was nevertheless among the lowest for a decade. The frequency halved at the land-based plants, and was the lowest since 2006.
* Major accident indicator
The RNNP process analyses a number of underlying indicators which are relevant for measuring major accident risk. These are integrated in accordance with a complex formula where the various contributions are weighted.
That yields an overall indicator for major accident risk. The method helps to ensure that measures aimed at the most serious incidents can be applied where they are most needed and will have the biggest impact.