The NSOAF was founded in 1989 with the aim of ensuring continuous improvement in health, safety and the environment for petroleum activities in these waters.
The members of the NSOAF meet for an annual plenary meeting in which activities are summed up and new tasks initiated and discussed.
This work primarily takes place through three permanent working groups, which hold meetings as and when required, usually twice per year.
The health, safety and environmental working group (NSOAF-HS&E) is chaired by the Netherlands. Its work includes contributing to a continuous improvement in safety and the working environment, harmonisation of regulatory requirements/reduction in administrative burdens, and the transfer of experience between regulators. This group is also responsible for joint meetings between the NSOAF and associations representing the exploration and production industry.
The group pursues subjects where the regulators have common interests. Work is currently underway on five specific topics, each of which has a dedicated coordinator and contacts from each country:
The safety training working group (NSOAF-TG) is chaired by Denmark. It works to achieve mutual acceptance for the safety training requirements applied in the North Sea countries. Agreement has been reached among the countries on which elements of the training programmes are mutually acceptable, and which elements have different requirements.
This applies to basic safety and emergency preparedness training as well as various types of special instruction. The work forms a basis for further simplification of training requirements and schemes for mutual acceptance of training modules across continental shelf borders.
The working group on drilling and well control (NSOAF-WWG) was formally established in 2006 and has been chaired by the UK from June 2011 to June 2013.
It exchanges information and cooperates on safety and working environment aspects relating to drilling and well operations, well integrity and blowout prevention.
The group’s activities will also contribute to continuous improvement of safety and the working environment during drilling operations, well workovers and other well-related activities. In addition, it is working to reduce administrative burdens for companies which operate on several continental shelves in the North Sea area.