A disquieting rise in serious incidents reported to the PSA has been registered in 2020. Figures to 31 September show more than 50 of these – twice as many as in the same period of last year and more than four times the 2018 figure.

“This trend is a source of concern,” says Myhrvold.

Although reported incidents this year have yet to be quality-assured for final classification of their seriousness, she emphasises that the picture has now become sufficiently clear to justify sounding a warning – and sending an unambiguous signal to the companies.

Action by Myhrvold over the next few weeks includes meetings with the management of all the large operator companies on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) about the safety challenges in the industry.

“My message to top management now is that they must now give priority to safety work, so that we can avoid accidents and serious incidents in petroleum operations,” she says.

“The operator companies are responsible for safety on their facilities and at their plants. They’re the ones who own the risk. We do not accept a trend with an ever-growing number of incidents.”

The risk picture and developments for serious incidents are otherwise illuminated in detail through the PSA’s annual survey on trends in risk level in the petroleum activity (RNNP). Its main findings are published every April.

Record investigations

The PSA has decided to launch 12 investigations so far in 2020 (Updated per 20. October 2020) – a record number .

Preliminary findings from some of these inquiries also show that company responses to the coronavirus epidemic may have had consequences for safety.

“The majority of our investigations are still under way, and it’s too early to draw final conclusions,” Myhrvold says. “But if these indications stand up, and the pandemic has actually had a negative impact on safety, that would be unacceptable.

“We investigate the most serious and important incidents. It’s crucial for us that we have the most up-to-date picture possible of the safety position in the industry. Our investigations give us valuable information.

“The operators must also have a corresponding picture and overview. They must be aware of and updated about the safety challenges in all parts of their portfolio.”

Postponed maintenance

Another area which gives ground for concern are changes to maintenance work and their possible consequences for safety. Myhrvold reminds the companies of the need to think long-term.

“We see that the pandemic has led to maintenance postponements and changes to turnaround schedules. The companies assure us that they are continuing to carry out necessary maintenance of safety-critical equipment, but we see that delays to other necessary servicing are increasing.

“The companies must now be on their guard, and avoid a lack of maintenance over time developing into a safety risk.”

Investigations in 2020

  1. Equinor/Floatel International - Floatel Endurance - unintentional disconnection of walkway
  2. Wintershall/Seadrill - West Mira - unintentional disconnection of lower marine riser package
  3. Equinor - Oseberg B - lifting incident with personal injury
  4. Equinor - Mongstad - steam leak and personal injury
  5. Gassco - Kårstø - electric arcing and personal injury
  6. Equinor - Statfjord B - electric arcing and personal injury
  7. ExxonMobil - Slagentangen - naphtha leak
  8. Equinor - Johan Castberg project
  9. Valaris - Rowan Stavanger - BOP, component came loose
  10. Equinor - Hammerfest LNG - turbine fire
  11. Neptune/Odfjell - Gjøa - well control incident
  12. Seadrill - West Bollsta - dropped object incident

(Updated per 20. October 2020)