“We’re pleased to have been shown this confidence by the government, and are looking forward to working on both regulatory development and building a good collaboration with the industry players,” says Finn Carlsen, the PSA’s director of professional competence.

Mapping how much and what types of seabed minerals can be found off Norway is the job of the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD).  The area being investigated lies between the Jan Mayen and Svalbard islands.  So actual recovery of seabed minerals is still some way off.

“It’s nevertheless important to get off to an early start in developing new regulations in order to ensure predictability for the industry,” says Carlsen.

“The regulations must build on a good grasp of the risk picture related to how the minerals are recovered.”

Expertise on the far north

Exploration drilling in the Barents Sea is nothing new. The area was opened for petroleum operations in 1980, and both the industry and the government have pursued major projects in recent years to learn more about the special conditions which characterise industrial activities in a cold climate.

Many standards have also been developed which are likely to be relevant for developing a new industry with seabed minerals on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS).

Expanded responsibility

The PSA already has supervisory authority for safety, the working environment and emergency preparedness – including security – related to petroleum operations, carbon storage and offshore wind power.

“We see this as a recognition by the government that our expertise with and experience of supervising other activities based on the NCS also makes us the appropriate safety authority for the recovery of seabed minerals,” says Carlsen.