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Securing the sector

 Photo: Ole Berg Rusten/NTB
Great expectations for the industry’s work on health and the working environment are expressed by Hadia Tajik, Norway’s minister of labour and social inclusion. That applies to both oil and gas and new areas of commitment.

The recently appointed minister is experiencing busy days in her new post. She explains here what underlies the government’s statement that oil and gas will be developed rather than wound up, and how she sees the industry’s future. 
The government has said its aim is developing, not winding up the petroleum sector. What does that involve – and what significance does this industry have in overcoming the climate challenges? 

Developing, not winding up is about seeing the links between what the oil, gas and supplier industry gives us in terms of expertise, economic value and energy security at a fairly crucial time. 

Our aim is to cut emissions while creating jobs. The petroleum sector will then still need operating parameters which give us revenues and jobs nationwide. 

At the same time, we’ll be reducing emissions from the NCS – in part with the aid of CCS and increased use of electricity. 

The government will develop, not wind down the petroleum industry, and emphasises that the ambition of being the world leader for HSE remains unchanged.

We must build climate-friendly industries on the shoulders of what we have today. The petroleum sector has a crucial role in overcoming the climate challenges while ensure that Norway’s economic diversity increases. 
Expertise from this industry can lay the basis for other sectors. Lessons learnt from many years of installing subsea systems are important for offshore wind power. 

Similarly, experience from the NCS is vital for success with carbon storage. In the same way, we can make more out of the minerals on the seabed. 
Security of supply is also important. When the whole world is set to undergo a decisive energy transformation, success will be impossible unless we feel sufficiently sure that we can provide both for the big users and for individuals in their daily lives. 

Together with the industry, our aim is to cut NCS emissions from producing oil and gas by 50 per cent in 2030 and to zero in 2050. This sector will thereby also be a trailblazer in reducing emissions. 
How important is that the companies have, and continue to develop, a high level of safety and a good working environment? 

Norway’s petroleum industry will be the world leader for HSE. That means we must work constantly for improvement. This industry has a major accident potential, where even minor errors and mishaps can lead to serious harm. 
To avoid accidents and acute discharges or emissions, it’s essential to work continuously on improvements and prevention. The companies must always ensure a good and safe working environment both offshore and onshore. 
What’s needed to achieve that?

Companies themselves bear the main responsibility for keeping their operations safe and prudent. Today’s Norwegian HSE regime depends entirely on their awareness of this duty and on treating it with the greatest seriousness. 

A crucial role is played here by the PSA. Its supervision must be strong and unambiguous in terms of reactions and follow-up of the companies. 
The bar for deploying stronger instruments must be lowered when risk and the seriousness of accidents rise, and the PSA must consistently ensure that nonconformities found are corrected. 
Good collaboration between companies, unions and government is also important, and must be characterised by open communication and mutual respect. 

Positive worker participation at every stage is not least important for conducting prudent petroleum operations. Employees have expertise and experience which the industry must actively listen to. 
Does the ambition of being the world leader for HSE also apply to other energy production on the NCS, such as wind power? 

The ambition for a high level of safety and good working conditions naturally also covers new forms of offshore energy output. 
HSE regulations for transporting and storing CO2 are already in place, and the PSA has now also been commissioned to develop parameters and regulations for offshore wind power. 

Where other industries are concerned, I’m convinced that the experience already acquired by the PSA will also be of great value. 
It could eventually be necessary to provide supervision for more areas on the NCS, but that still remains to be seen.