Common Petroleum Safety Standards

December 22, 2009

Common Petroleum Safety Standards

A joint Russian-Norwegian project to develop common safety standards for the petroleum industry in the Barents Sea presented a series of recommendations in Moscow this week. Since 2007 more than 100 Norwegian and Russian experts from official authorities and private industry have worked together to find common standards for environment and safety in the upcoming exploration of oil- and gas in the Barents Sea.

 The project, initiated by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, looked into how the two country’s existing standards could be applied for High North climate challenges that characterize the Barents Sea.

 The initiative is a part of Norway’s Barents 2020 program for knowledge-building in the north supposed to create arenas for cooperation between Norwegian and foreign experts. Det Norske Veritas (DNV) has been in charge of coordinating the project on Norwegian side. The main Russian partners are Gazprom and VNIIGAZ.

When the project was initiated in August 2007,  BarentsObserver quoted Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre saying: - The Russian and Norwegian authorities have different rules for the petroleum industry. The Norwegian government is pleased to support and facilitate industry efforts to take on the challenges involved and build up cross-border cooperation, as this is in line with the High North strategy.

Presenting the results in Moscow on Thursday, the experts recommended standards for the design of stationary offshore unites against ice leads in the Barents Sea.

Other recommendations included standards for risk management of major hazards such as fires, explosions and blow-outs from offshore drilling, production and storage unites in the Barents Sea area.

The Russian experts have brought in-depth knowledge and expertise with regard to operations in cold climate, while the Norwegians have brought expertise from offshore operations, according to a  press release from Det Norske Veritas. - I am confident that its public-private nature has been one of the success factors of this project.

Both authorities and the industry realize the need to enforce and implement adequate rules and standards in order to safeguard petroleum activities in the Barents Sea in the years to come.

 And we all realize our obligation in making this happen, says CEO and President of DNV Henrik O. Madsen. The project costed NOK 27 million (€ 3,2 million) and got funding from both Norwegian and Russian authorites, in addition to funding from private industry.

As reported by  BarentsObserver earlier this autumn, the Norwegian Government continues to fund the Barents 2020 project with additional NOK 55 million (€ 6,5 million) for the budget year 2010 with the aim of continued  knowledge-building in the north.   

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