Increasing activity in the High North, linked to exploration drilling and the expansion of major discoveries, has placed the High North in the spotlight in recent years. At the same time, there has been a lot of discussion about whether the industry has adequate knowledge of the HSE challenges in this region.

Despite the industry's efforts to plug the knowledge gaps in recent years, the PSA has perceived a need to be more knowledgeable. We therefore identified a number of areas where we ourselves will undertake knowledge acquisition projects. We have received NOK 20 million from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and NOK 10 million from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to perform this work.

Some 15 projects have been defined, which will run until 2019.

Ongoing projects

Challenges linked to ice and snow in the High North

The project is to acquire and update knowledge of the incidence of icebergs, growlers, bergy bits and snowfall that may affect operations in the areas of the Barents Sea that have been opened for petroleum activities. This knowledge is a prerequisite for future development of petroleum activities in these areas. The knowledge is being developed from research, expertise and observations of the conditions as well as knowledge of climate change, the environment and natural resources in the High North.

Provider: SINTEF
Project execution: 2016-2019

Structural safety in the High North

The project is intended to provide an overview of risk factors, uncertainties and knowledge gaps linked to the structural safety of semi-submersible facilities and ship facilities when used in areas open for petroleum activities in the Barents Sea.

Typical problems linked to structural safety are loads and load effects, motion characteristics, global and local hull strength, stability, anchoring and positioning.

The remit includes anchor loads, loads on structures in the presence of wave-borne lumps of ice (growlers), improved models for icing (atmospheric and from seaspray) and the acquisition of knowledge on crack propagation and fractures in materials at temperatures below -20⁰C. This is to be viewed in the light of knowledge-based industry initiatives, research, education and expertise concerning the High North.

Provider: DNV GL
Project execution: 2016-2017

Enclosed modules, design and explosion pressure

The project is a continuation of the knowledge development and results from previous work relating to gas leaks and explosion pressure in enclosed areas. Winterisation by means of enclosing modules is a common measure for protecting the working environment and equipment in the High North. Enclosure and fire development are included in the remit. The project aims to achieve a better understanding of the degree and the way in which the increased risk arising from enclosure can be compensated by a change in the use of HVAC, early detection, equipment configuration and other measures within the design of process modules.

Provider: Safetech Nordic AS
Project execution: 2017

Effect of cold on the working environment in the High North

The project is a collaboration with STAMI on knowledge linked to the effects of working in cold climates. The intention is to stimulate further work on the working environment in cold climates and contribute to cooperation and experience transfer between the PSA, STAMI, SINTEF and other key cold climate centres of expertise. The work within this remit aims to elucidate the following problems:

  • Exposure to cold and cognitive functions - risk of mistakes
  • Actual exposure to cold in the petroleum activities
  • Exposure to cold and shiftwork
  • Technical, operational and organisational measures

Provider: STAMI
Project execution: 2016-2018

Risk of acute spills in the High North

The project is intended to enhance the PSA's method for assessing and monitoring the risk of accidents that may lead to acute spills from petroleum activities in the High North. The work will cover methodological approaches, assessment of the risk of acute spills, risk development scenarios, prerequisites for meeting risk and risk development goals, identification of relevant measures, and collaboration with relevant authorities and technical domains.

Provider: Proactima
Project execution: 2017-2019


The remit builds on the results from the report "Winterisation measures for facilities in the Barents Sea" prepared by SINTEF in the ST8 Winterisation project. The results from the report show that many different winterisation measures are used on the facilities in the Barents Sea. There is a lot of information about which measures are used, but far less about their effect. In this project we aim to map performance and effect, and which combinations of measures are required in the different areas and seasons. In this respect, it will be relevant to gather experiences and information from companies with activities in the High North.

Provider: Proactima
Plan: 2017-2018

Planned projects

Operational challenges for process facilities and extinguishing systems in severe cold

The project aims to acquire knowledge that may necessitate changes in the design of process systems with associated auxiliary and support systems and fire extinguishing systems as a consequence of severe cold combined with wind. This will be done by acquiring knowledge and experiences of operational problems linked to extinguishing systems in severe cold, process facilities with support systems in severe cold (for example, seawater, hydraulics, water-based chemicals), unexpected shutdowns, rapid cooling (for example, ice, wax, hydrates) and ice formation on equipment, pipes and valves (atmospheric icing and seaspray).

Project execution: 2018