A number of audits by the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) have identified deficiencies in Equinor’s management of manning and/or competence in its Norwegian offshore operations. It has now issued an order to Equinor.
The shortcomings have been found in the company’s exploration and production Norway (EPN) business area in relation to operations on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) during 2019 and 2020.
• In December 2020, the PSA asked Equinor to account for manning and competence in EPN.
• In February 2021, Equinor was given notice by the PSA of an order concerning manning conditions in EPN.
• The order was issued on 26 March 2021.
More detailed grounds for the order
The sum total of its observations has aroused concern in the PSA about the consequences for occupational health, safe operation and the ability to handle faults, hazards and accidents on Equinor’s facilities.
Equinor has failed to demonstrate that internal requirements have been established to determine the acceptable level for utilising an extended offshore period.
Furthermore, the PSA takes the view that the company’s use of extended offshore periods does not accord with the regulations.
Supervisory activities by the PSA in 2019-20 have identified extensive use of work in excess of normal working time and overtime working over several years. To a great extent, this has related to extended offshore periods/extra call-outs. PSA audits have also shown that this practice has been increasing.
Equinor has reduced basic manning on its facilities as a result of its operational manning 2016-19 project. It follows from the operational model that resources to meet activities over and above normal operation are to be provided from the offshore skilled worker pool (OFS).
The PSA’s supervisory activities have found that extended offshore periods are regularly used because it has been difficult to secure the necessary resources from the OFS.
Such extended periods are also used to cover resource requirements for planned turnarounds and sickness absences. Results from the PSA’s supervision suggest that a persistent need exists for extra capacity, which must be met by extending offshore periods.
After an overall assessment of the scope and regularity of using extended offshore periods, the PSA takes the view that these periods are utilized in a way which is contrary to section 42, paragraph 2 of the framework regulations.
On that basis, Equinor has been given the following order.
Pursuant to section 69 of the framework regulations on administrative decisions and section 8 of the management regulations on internal requirements, Equinor is ordered, on the basis that the requirements in section 14 of the management regulations on manning and competence and section 33 of the activities regulations on organization of work are to be met, to establish specific requirements for what represents an acceptable level of utilizing an extended offshore period beyond 14 days at an individual and facility level, see section 42 of the framework regulations on offshore periods.
The deadline for complying with the order is 30 June 2021.
The PSA has requested that Equinor makes this decision known to the elected officers of the workforce, including safety delegates, pursuant to section 18-6, paragraph 8 of the Norwegian Working Environment Act.
It has also requested that Equinor provides in information on how the company will ensure that employees and their elected officers are given the opportunity to participate in the work of complying with the order.