Summary based on company reports, 20 March 2020

At 10.00 on 24 March, no fixed facility on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) or land-based plant had restricted or shut down production as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Where drilling and work on mobile units are concerned, most of the main activities – such as drilling, well workovers and completion – are continuing as planned. Some well plugging has been halted and postponed, while some drilling operations are being terminated/not started.

Three mobile facilities are out of operation as a result of the outbreak.

Reduced manning

The companies are restricting unnecessary activities in order to ensure prudent operation and production. Manning on fixed facilities and at land-based plants has so far been reduced by 20-40 per cent, rather less on mobile facilities. Most has ceased on Martin Linge, the only facility approaching completion. Maintenance of safety-critical equipment is being followed up as normal.

Generally speaking, the companies report little change in the position since 20 March 2020.

Maintenance postponed

Assessments of further cut-backs in activity are being made continuously. Planned turnarounds for upgrading and maintenance are being postponed to a great extent. The safety consequences of such postponements and the reduction in other maintenance activities is becoming an increasingly relevant issue.

The companies report that they are observing their procedures for conducting risk analyses, and are following these up with measures to ensure prudent operation.

Extended offshore periods

In order to reduce the risk of infection and to cover for personnel in quarantine, a number of companies are extending the offshore period for employees from 14 to 21 days as permitted by the HSE regulations.  A number of companies are also taking the opportunity to increase from 21 to 28 days on specified conditions.

Changes to tour arrangements

The companies are making different assessments and have varying practice. Some are maintaining a 14-day rotation, but imposing strict restrictions on those actually allowed to fly out.

A number of companies are in negotiations with the unions on a temporary change to tour plans. Three weeks on/six off is the most relevant pattern, but three/three could also be appropriate.

Safety delegate service – pressure growing

The safety delegate service on the facilities is concerned that pressure on the remaining personnel is growing. Many are worried about their families on land, which can reduce alertness and concentration while working.

Challenges ahead

Some conditions could mean that production and activities must be restricted or terminated in the longer term:

  • problems getting personnel (primarily from abroad) offshore to carry out safety-critical maintenance work
  • problems replacing personnel, with wear and tear on people in safety-critical functions
  • the threat that personnel on board will be unable to handle a demanding production/drilling incident if many become ill and are quarantined
  • safety delegates are questioning whether new drilling and well activities should be initiated if the ability to handle them could become questionable with reduced manning/expertise.

Protection against infection

The companies have initiated a number of strict measures to reduce infection, and are collaborating continuously with the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association and the county governor of Rogaland on preventing infection and emergency medical response.

Norwegian Oil and Gas has produced guidelines for dealing with the infection risk, and the impression is that a high level of control has been established with the infection position as well as with quarantine/isolation and transport of personnel.

PSA’s assessment of the position

Based on reporting for the companies in the petroleum sector, the PSA has formed the main impression that the level of safety is being maintained in the industry.

The overall picture is that the companies have sufficient manning and expertise over the short term (one-two weeks) for safe operation in this period.

The PSA is stepping up its ongoing contact with individual companies and parties, and following up industry challenges and specific issues on facilities and at plants.

Some of the conditions receiving particular attention are

  • starting up activities which could increase the level of risk
  • taking care of emergency response with lower manning as well as a reduced level of response training and drills
  • the consequences of reduced activity and maintenance, and postponing turnarounds
  • dealing with expired competence and equipment certificates
  • work by the companies to ensure adequate capacity and expertise and to prevent wear and tear on personnel
  • the scope and quality of ongoing risk assessments by the companies
  • worker participation at local and central levels.

Coronavirus

Here you can find important information from the PSA about dealing with the coronavirus and possible challenges for the petroleum industry:

Coronavirus – information from the PSA