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Audit of compliance with supervisor responsibility on Varg

During the period 28 November - 5 December 2006, the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) conducted an audit of Talisman Energy Norge AS (TENAS). During the audit, we received a good impression of how TENAS complies with the supervisor responsibility, but we also identified one nonconformity in relation to regulatory requirements.

About Varg

Petrojarl Varg, i bakgrunnen Varg AVarg is an oil field located in the southern part of the North Sea, south of Sleipner Øst, in 84 meters of water. The field produces with the aid of a production facility (Petrojarl Varg, production ship, see photo) with integrated oil storage linked to the wellhead facility Varg A.

TENAS took over as operator of the Varg field in 2005. In connection with this, TENAS applied for consent to commence use of the facilities on the Varg field. In this consent process, TENAS presented its plan for following up the operation of the field. This plan was used as a basis for the audit, together with applicable regulations and relevant TENAS' internal requirements and procedures.

Link: TENAS secures consent to use Varg (April 2005)

Background for the audit

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway is charged with setting standards and following up to ensure that the players in the petroleum activities maintain high standards as regards health, safety and environment, and thereby also contribute towards creating the greatest possible value for the society at large. As a basis for this, the PSA's follow-up shall be system-oriented and risk-based, and shall come in addition to the follow-up conducted by the industry itself.

This audit was aimed at how TENAS complies with the operator's supervisor responsibility* vis-à-vis Petrojarl ASA, ref. Regulations relating to health, environment and safety in the petroleum activities (the Framework Regulations, FR), Section 5 relating to responsibility under these regulations.

*The operator's supervision obligation
The operator shall ensure that all parties that perform work on its behalf, either personally, through employment, through contractors or subcontractors, comply with requirements laid down in the health, environment and safety legislation. The employees are obliged to contribute pursuant to Section 2-3 of the Working Environment Act.

Purpose of the audit

The purpose of the audit was to verify that TENAS safeguards the supervisor obligation vis-à-vis Petrojarl on the Varg field in accordance with the requirements in the HSE regulations. Another goal was to achieve insight as regards experience gained in the use of this model for compliance with the supervisor obligation.

Result of the audit

In this audit, we were presented with a new and reinforced TENAS organization, compared with the organization presented in connection with the change in operator on the Varg field in 2005.

We have received supplementary information regarding how various elements of TENAS' system for safeguarding the supervisor obligation vis-à-vis Petrojarl actually functions:

  • The "Varg Company Representative" in TENAS' land organization plays a very key role as regards the daily follow-up of the Varg field - this is reflected in the job description.
  • TENAS participates with personnel at the daily operations meetings - which also include participation by the manager for the Middle North Sea, together with the "Varg Company Representative".
  • Reference is made to good contact between TENAS and Petrojarl.
  • There is a formalized system for monthly operations meetings where we see that HSE issues are placed on the agenda.
  • A plan has been established for TENAS personnel to visit the field and Petrojarl's land organization in Trondheim. The results from such visits are documented in "visit reports ".
  • The HSE adviser plays an active role as regards maintaining an overview of important nonconformances and incidents, and records these in TENAS' Synergi database.
  • Reference was made to the use of risk assessments for special operations in order to consider presence on the field in connection with special operations - so far, this has only been relevant on Varg A.
  • A visit and audit plan has been set up for Varg.

Through the presentations given and the conversations we had, our general impression of how TENAS safeguards its supervisor obligation on the Varg field is good.

We found one nonconformity in relation to internal procedures and regulatory requirements linked to handling of verification activities. This is described in more detail in Chapter 5 of our audit report.

In addition, an observation was made in relation to follow-up of results from the review of technical condition of safety systems (TTS), which is described in Chapter 6 of our audit report. This factor has also been identified by TENAS, and reference was made to planned activities to rectify this.

Contact person i the Petroleum Safety Authority
Mike Theiss