The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) was created as an independent government regulator on 1 January 2004. It is located in Stavanger and has just over 160 staff.
Subordinate to the Ministry of Labour, the PSA has regulatory responsibility for safety, emergency preparedness and the working environment in the petroleum sector. This responsibility was taken over from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) when the PSA was created.
At the same time, the agency's regulatory authority was extended to cover safety, emergency preparedness and the working environment in petroleumrelated plants and associated pipeline systems at Melkøya, Tjeldbergodden, Nyhamna, Kollsnes, Mongstad, Stura, Kårstø and Slagentangen. Possible future integrated petroleum facilities will also be its responsibility.
The PSA's regulatory authority
The PSA is the regulator for technical and operational safety, including emergency preparedness, and for the working environment in all phases of the petroleum activity - such as planning, design, construction, use and possible later removal.
Authority has been delegated to the PSA by the Ministry to issue more detailed regulations for safety and the working environment in the industry, and to take specific decisions in the form of permits and consents, orders, enforcement fines, halting operations, prohibitions, dispensations and so forth.
The PSA's duties
The government has given the PSA the following duties:
- through its own audits and in cooperation with other regulatory authorities in the HSE area, the PSA will ensure that the petroleum activity and activities relating to it are supervised in a unified manner.
- the PSA will also provide information and advice to the players in the industry, establish appropriate collaborative relationships with other HSE regulators nationally and internationally, and contribute actively to a transfer of knowledge from the HSE area to society in general.
- the PSA will provide input to the supervising ministry on issues being dealt with by that ministry, and support the ministry on issues at request.
The government has specified that the PSA will be one of three powerful coordinators for HSE regulation covering industry and society. This coordinator role relates to the development of regulations and to monitoring that they are being observed. It also involves extending, further developing and expanding the key principles of the regulatory regime established in 1985.
This regime embraces the PSA's coordinatory role in relation to other regulators with independent authority in the HSE area. For the offshore part of the activity, these are the The Climate and Pollution Agency (the former SFT), the Norwegian Board of Health and the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority. The Coastal Directorate and the Norwegian Industrial Safety Organisation are also involved on the land side. Appropriate collaborative relations must also be established with local authorities and county councils.
Otherwise, the requirement for coordination involves no changes to the formal authority of the various agencies to take decisions pursuant to prevailing legislation and delegated powers.
The PSA supplements its own expertise by drawing on support from other government agencies, institutions and companies with specialist expertise, on the basis of existing collaboration agreements.
The ministry has provided the following guidelines on how the PSA should discharge its duties:
- audits should be system-oriented and risk-based
- audits should be a supplement to and not a replacement for internal control by the industry
- the PSA must strike a balance between its role as high-risk/technology regulator and a labour inspection authority
- contributing to and collaborating with companies and unions represent a crucial requirement for and principle in the PSA's operations.