Important conditions affecting health, safety and the environment (HSE) are determined by contracts between operator companies and suppliers, including the definition of manning levels, how the work is to be organised, and what is measured and forms the basis for bonus payments.

In recent years, the petroleum industry has experienced a number of structural changes and efficiency processes. Significant changes have been made to operating parameters in contracts with regard to the division of roles and responsibilities between operator and suppliers, organisation of the work, and working conditions for the individual.

Operating parameters

Embrace (and in this case are confined to) conditions which influence the practical opportunities available to an organisation, organisational unit, group or individual to keep major accident and working environment risk under control.

The connection between operating parameters on the one hand and safety and the working environment on the other is complicated and complex, which makes surveillance under this heading particularly challenging. Many different approaches have been utilised by the PSA here.


In recent years, the PSA has conducted a number of supervisory activities directed at changes to operating parameters.

These supervisory activities have been pursued in part as meeting series and offshore audits. The PSA has engaged in reflection and dialogue on the operator company’s role, how it sets parameters for and influences risk management by suppliers, and how much scope the latter have in practice to deal with the responsibility conferred by the individual contract.

In its meeting with supplier companies, the PSA has acquired updated knowledge about typical challenges related to operating parameters in contracts. The meeting series have been followed up by audits on individual facilities addressing both operator and supplier.

Subjects covered in the audits are roles and responsibilities, decision bases and the company’s own follow-up.

The PSA has also conducted audits on a number of other topics related to operating parameters, such as managing capacity and expertise, working time, temporary hires and changes to work organisation. Safety delegates are a particularly important source of information.

In recent years, the PSA has followed up implementation of fully integrated drilling and well service contracts.

It conducted a meeting series in 2018 with operators, drilling contractors and service providers, which was followed up in 2019 with audits on fixed facilities.

While the efficiency enhancement processes being pursued in the industry take various forms, a key aspect is manning reductions offshore.

One way of achieving these is through new forms of collaboration and contracts. The latter involve closer collaboration between operator, drilling contractor and service company, and offshore manning is reduced in part through cross-training for such personnel.

Information and guidance

In meetings with employer organisations and unions, and in a number of seminars and speeches, the PSA has communicated knowledge about operating parameters widely in the industry. Its main issue in 2021 was “side by side with the suppliers”.  In that context, its Dialogue journal was devoted in the autumn of 2020 to the position of suppliers, with an article about the PSA’s follow-up of contractual conditions.

Read more: Side by side with the suppliers.

At its suppliers seminar in December 2021, the PSA and representatives from the industry summed up important issues requiring further follow-up. In the same year, the PSA announced an R&D project on changes to operating parameters and their consequences for the working environment and safety. Particular attention was paid in this work to two subjects: changes to forms of affiliation, and changes to contracts and modes of collaboration. The project is due to report by the end of 2022.


Operating parameters are a far-reaching subject, and apply to a large proportion of enterprises. Via studies, meeting series and audits, the PSA has greatly increased its knowledge over time of these conditions in contracts and their implications for safety and the working environment. Through these efforts, it has contributed to greater awareness in the industry of the consequences of operating parameters for HSE.

The attention paid to this by the PSA has clearly identified the challenges facing suppliers, the responsibilities of operating companies and the responsibility of supplier companies for their own employees. The PSA’s knowledge of operating parameters in the petroleum sector also provided the basis for its consultation response to the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs concerning Norwegian Official Reports (NOU) 2021:19 on the Norwegian model and working life of the future – a study of forms of affiliation and enterprise organisation.   

This article is taken from the PSA’s annual report for 2021 to the Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion. Access the whole report here (in Norwegian only, English summary).