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Projects - knowledge development

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway is working on a number of projects associated with knowledge development for the High North.

Increasing activity in the High North, linked to exploration drilling and the expansion of major discoveries, has placed the High North in the spotlight in recent years. At the same time, there has been a lot of discussion about whether the industry has adequate knowledge of the HSE challenges in this region.

Despite the industry's efforts to plug the knowledge gaps in recent years, the PSA has perceived a need to be more knowledgeable. We therefore identified a number of areas where we ourselves will undertake knowledge acquisition projects. We have received NOK 20 million from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and NOK 10 million from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to perform this work.

Some 15 projects have been defined, which will run until 2019.


Completed projects

Simultaneous operations, undertaking activities in the High North
The report is a feasibility study to provide a foundation for investigating the effect of coordinating drilling operations in the opened areas of the Barents Sea. The work is restricted to an evaluation of shared logistics solutions, ICT infrastructure solutions, emergency preparedness resources, oil spill resources and the ability to rapidly implement relief drilling, should the need arise. Both safety and financial benefits and drawbacks are assessed. The evaluations are based on alternative collaboration models for exploration drilling in the opened area of the Barents Sea.

Provider: SINTEF
Project execution: 2015-2016

Download report (in Norwegian only)

Alternative personnel transport and evacuation solutions in the High North
The project gathered knowledge of alternative transport and evacuation methods for transferring personnel to/from petroleum facilities using lifting appliances and suitable lifting gear. The report investigated notably what requirements should be defined for the solutions in order to achieve the desired availability.

The transport and evacuation of personnel using vessels and transfer to/from facilities with the aid of lifting appliances is an alternative that can be used when helicopters are not available (for example, in the case of prolonged fog), or as an alternative when helicopter transport is unsuitable (for example, due to distance). This last aspect is of particular relevance in the Barents Sea, where the locations are very distant, and there is little or no infrastructure between the land and the facility. The project's primary aim is to cover safety concerns raised by the transport of personnel to facilities.

Provider: Proactima
Project execution: 2015-2016

Download project report (in Norwegian only)

Winterisation of facilities
The project gathered knowledge concerning topics that pertain to the concept of winterisation, known and available solutions and measures within each topic, as well as which solutions and measures may be useful in different areas of the Barents Sea. The report also gives a general overview of subjects and areas covered by or missing from available standards that deal with the winterisation of facilities for exploration drilling or production in areas opened for petroleum activities in the Barents Sea. The work is based in part on a review of seven winterisation manuals from production and drilling operators. The emphasis is on solutions that deal with icing, snow and low temperatures.

Provider: SINTEF
Project execution: 2015-2016

Download the project report

Suitable drilling facilities in the High North
The project is to investigate the risk potential of using submersible drilling facilities compared with drillships in areas susceptible to mobile ice (growlers and bergy bits) which may threaten the integrity of drilling and well control equipment at the sea surface. The project will also map protection methods and assess the need for other types of drilling facilities than those currently used in the Norwegian section of the Barents Sea. Furthermore, the project will obtain knowledge of how this issue is handled on other countries' shelves, with particular attention paid to simplified movement of facilities between the shelves. This is to be viewed in the light of increased cross-border interaction in the North, and knowledge-based industry initiatives.

Provider: Ramboll, Oslo
Project execution: 2016-2018

Download the project report (in Norwegian only)

Directional drilling in the High North
The aim is to acquire knowledge of special challenges linked to uncertainty about measurement while drilling (MWD) in the Barents Sea. This is important in respect of well positioning, anti-collision, well control and relief drilling, especially in horizontal wells.

Provider: Add Wellflow AS
Project execution: 2017

Download the project report

Shallow reservoirs in the High North
The project is to acquire knowledge of special challenges associated with shallow reservoirs in the Barents Sea. Some reservoirs in the Barents Sea are much shallower than in other areas of the shelf (+/- 250 m beneath the seabed). In particular, knowledge is to be acquired on factors relating to well integrity, properties of the bedrock, fracturing of the seabed in the case of injection wells, factors arising in the event of relief drilling and methods for monitoring the bedrock.

Provider: Add Wellflow AS
Project execution: 2017

Download the project report

Human performance when working in the High North
The project is to help develop knowledge of working environment risk for employees on facilities in the High North. The remit comprises knowledge development in respect of working environment risk linked to exposure at work in the High North, for example, cold, daylight/darkness, isolation and solitude and organisation of the work.

The effects of such exposure may lead to reduced cognitive functions (and risk of mistakes, and interactions between physiological parameters and cognitive responses), reduced manual and physical performance, other mental and physiological reactions, such as fatigue, anxiety, sleep problems, mood disorders, and so forth, special challenges linked to the interplay between psychosocial factors and performance when working in the High North, and organisational factors such as shiftwork and rotation schemes, night work, work organisation and travel time linked to work in the High North.

Provider: SINTEF
Project execution: 2016-2018

Download the project report (in Norwegian only)

Drilling in karstified formations
Knowledge acquisition concerning special challenges in drilling in karstified formations in the Barents Sea. Karstification is weathering in which a chemical solution causes the creation of large cavities which in turn can lead to sudden and large mud losses when drilling. The work will include well control when drilling in karstified formations, seismic tools for detecting such cavities, equipment for discovering these conditions during drilling, and new technologies and methods for safe drilling in karstified formations.

Provider: Acona AS
Project execution: 2017

Download the project report (in Norwegian only)

Ongoing projects

Challenges linked to ice and snow in the High North
The project is to acquire and update knowledge of the incidence of icebergs, growlers, bergy bits and snowfall that may affect operations in the areas of the Barents Sea that have been opened for petroleum activities. This knowledge is a prerequisite for future development of petroleum activities in these areas. The knowledge is being developed from research, expertise and observations of the conditions as well as knowledge of climate change, the environment and natural resources in the High North.

Provider: SINTEF
Project execution: 2016-2019

Structural safety in the High North
The project is intended to provide an overview of risk factors, uncertainties and knowledge gaps linked to the structural safety of semi-submersible facilities and ship facilities when used in areas open for petroleum activities in the Barents Sea.

Typical problems linked to structural safety are loads and load effects, motion characteristics, global and local hull strength, stability, anchoring and positioning.

The remit includes anchor loads, loads on structures in the presence of wave-borne lumps of ice (growlers), improved models for icing (atmospheric and from seaspray) and the acquisition of knowledge on crack propagation and fractures in materials at temperatures below -20⁰C. This is to be viewed in the light of knowledge-based industry initiatives, research, education and expertise concerning the High North.

Provider: DNV GL
Project execution: 2016-2017

Enclosed modules, design and explosion pressure
The project is a continuation of the knowledge development and results from previous work relating to gas leaks and explosion pressure in enclosed areas. Winterisation by means of enclosing modules is a common measure for protecting the working environment and equipment in the High North. Enclosure and fire development are included in the remit. The project aims to achieve a better understanding of the degree and the way in which the increased risk arising from enclosure can be compensated by a change in the use of HVAC, early detection, equipment configuration and other measures within the design of process modules.

Provider: Safetech Nordic AS
Project execution: 2017

Effect of cold on the working environment in the High North
The project is a collaboration with STAMI on knowledge linked to the effects of working in cold climates. The intention is to stimulate further work on the working environment in cold climates and contribute to cooperation and experience transfer between the PSA, STAMI, SINTEF and other key cold climate centres of expertise. The work within this remit aims to elucidate the following problems:

  • Exposure to cold and cognitive functions - risk of mistakes
  • Actual exposure to cold in the petroleum activities
  • Exposure to cold and shiftwork
  • Technical, operational and organisational measures

Provider: STAMI
Project execution: 2016-2018

Risk of acute spills in the High North
The project is intended to enhance the PSA's method for assessing and monitoring the risk of accidents that may lead to acute spills from petroleum activities in the High North. The work will cover methodological approaches, assessment of the risk of acute spills, risk development scenarios, prerequisites for meeting risk and risk development goals, identification of relevant measures, and collaboration with relevant authorities and technical domains.

Provider: Proactima
Project execution: 2017-2019

The remit builds on the results from the report "Winterisation measures for facilities in the Barents Sea" prepared by SINTEF in the ST8 Winterisation project. The results from the report show that many different winterisation measures are used on the facilities in the Barents Sea. There is a lot of information about which measures are used, but far less about their effect. In this project we aim to map performance and effect, and which combinations of measures are required in the different areas and seasons. In this respect, it will be relevant to gather experiences and information from companies with activities in the High North.

Provider: Proactima
Plan: 2017-2018

Planned projects

Operational challenges for process facilities and extinguishing systems in severe cold
The project aims to acquire knowledge that may necessitate changes in the design of process systems with associated auxiliary and support systems and fire extinguishing systems as a consequence of severe cold combined with wind. This will be done by acquiring knowledge and experiences of operational problems linked to extinguishing systems in severe cold, process facilities with support systems in severe cold (for example, seawater, hydraulics, water-based chemicals), unexpected shutdowns, rapid cooling (for example, ice, wax, hydrates) and ice formation on equipment, pipes and valves (atmospheric icing and seaspray).

Project execution: 2018