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Regulatory principles

Some important principles in the regulations for the petroleum industry on the Norwegian continental shelf are presented here.

Risk-based regulations 
Norway’s regulations for petroleum operations offshore and on land are risk-based, and give great emphasis to principles for reducing health, safety and environmental (HSE) risk.

The aim is to minimise the threat of accidents, personal injuries, occupational illness and environmental damage. See section 11 of the framework regulations on risk reduction principles.

Generalised requirements
The structure of the regulations reflects the fact that most of the requirements are generalised – in other words, they apply to all the regulations but appear only in one place.

Examples include section 2 of the framework regulations on the scope of application and section 5 of the management regulations on barriers.

The text and the context will make it clear when a requirement does not apply across the full scope of the regulations. See the guidelines to section 2 of the framework regulations on the scope of application.

The responsible party
“The responsible party” pursuant to these regulations is the operator and others participating in operations. The responsible party must ensure compliance with the requirements specified in the HSE legislation.

See the framework regulations – section 7 on responsibilities pursuant to these regulations and section 18 on qualification and follow-up of other participants, in both cases with their guidelines.

The specific provisions make it clear if requirements apply to the operator alone, for example. If no specific party is named, the requirement applies to the responsible party.

Employees must participate in ensuring compliance with the regulations. See section 7 of the framework regulations on responsibilities pursuant to these regulations.

Performance-based requirements
The regulations are largely formulated as performance-based (functional) requirements. They specify requirements for the various aspects, characteristics or qualities which a product, process or service must possess.

These requirements express the performance or result which the product, process or service is to yield – in other words, the performance the government wishes to achieve through them.

Fulfilling requirements
Regulations and guidelines must be viewed collectively in order to acquire the best possible understanding of the standard which the regulations seek to achieve.

Recommended solutions and recognised norms
The guidelines to the HSE regulations provide recommended solutions for fulfilling the specific requirements. These usually take the form of recognised norms – industry standards, for instance.

When a recommended solution is applied, the requirement can be considered to be met. Should an alternative (recognised) solution be chosen, it must be possible to document that the requirement has been fulfilled as well as or better than with the recommended option.

Learn more about this regulatory principle in section 24 of the framework regulations on the use of recognised standards, with guidelines.

This use of recognised norms does not apply to the provisions of the Norwegian Pollution Control or Product Control Acts. The guidelines to this legislation contribute to understanding and explaining the requirements.          

That also includes suggestions for how requirements can be met. However, this does not preclude the use of standards or other recognised norms where relevant.