The war in Ukraine is having serious consequences for energy supply in Europe, and gas deliveries from Norway are more important than ever, he notes. With the threat level changed for a long time to come, the government must tailor its measures and priorities to the new reality.

This is part of the background to the PSA’s main issue for 2023: For safe and stable energy development – collectively and concurrently.

The PSA plays a key role in the Norwegian petroleum sector as the supervisory authority for safety. Its responsibilities also extend to physical and ICT security.

“So far, the petroleum industry has done a very good job with regard to safety and security,” observes Carlsen. 

However, he is concerned to see that an integrated approach is taken to the risk picture in order for Norway to remain a stable supplier of gas to Europe.

“The companies must view safety and security collectively. Maintenance work and turnarounds, for example, must be conducted as planned. At the same time, they must have sufficient capacity and competence to deal with unexpected events – both unintended incidents and deliberate attacks.

“Last year’s drone episodes on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) provide an example of how the security picture can change quickly, and how we as an industry must be prepared for that.”

Finn Carlsen, director of professional competence at the PSA.
“The companies must take an integrated approach to the risk picture if Norway is to remain a stable supplier of gas to Europe,” says Finn Carlsen, director of professional competence at the PSA. Photo: Anne Lise Norheim

Barriers

Carlsen gives particular emphasis to barrier systems, developed over a long time by Norway’s petroleum sector, as an important basis for risk management.

“The knowledge and capacity built up by the industry in order to strengthen and maintain barriers also contribute to work on security against deliberate attacks,” he observes.

That applies particularly to ICT security, which is attracting great attention both from the government and in the industry.

“We are particularly concerned to ensure that the industrial control systems are well-protected and that the barriers surrounding them are robust.”

Reports: ICT security in industrial systems
Adopting new technological solutions, sharing data and interconnecting systems provide positive benefits for the oil sector – but also help to increase vulnerability.

A number of studies and research activities directed at various aspects of robustness in industrial ICT systems were conducted by the PSA in 2018-21.

Find all the PSA’s reports on ICT security here

Employees important

Carlsen adds that employees also play a key role in security work. That became highly relevant last autumn when personnel on offshore facilities and at plants on land contributed to good reporting of drone observations. And alert employees are extremely important in such areas as cyber security and access control.

“The level of security in the petroleum sector is largely defined by the contribution of each employee,” Carlsen points out. “Companies must continue to prioritise relevant and timely information for their own personnel, and thereby make better use of the resource these people represent.”

The knowledge and capacity built up by the industry in order to strengthen and maintain barriers also contribute to work on security against deliberate attacks.

Information

Sharing information between the companies, employers and employees, different government agencies, and these agencies and the companies is also important, Carlsen says.

“Collaboration between all the parties involved is crucial for preventing and containing deliberate attacks.”