The last decade has seen an unprecedented and continuously growing interest to explore offshore Arctic. Major international energy companies are now mobilizing their resources, improving competence and knowledge, developing technology and internal regulations to prepare for a long lasting and challenging journey.

This paper is intended to provide a review and comparison of the most stringent international standards and regulations relevant for the Arctic region including but not limited to as follows:

  • American Petroleum Institute (API)

  • International Organization for Standardization (ISO)

  • U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (U.S. CFR)

  • Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE)

  • UK Health and Safety Executive (UK HSE)

  • Norsk Sokkels Konkurranseposisjon (NORSOK)

  • Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA)

  • Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD)

Each entity has its strong sides that are usually based on previous industry experience and accidents resulted in substantial downtime, harm to environment, equipment and not least the personnel. At the same time simultaneous compliance to divergent standards might compromise overall safety. Bearing in mind extreme environmental sensitivity of the Arctic region, scale of impact and possible environmental consequences, there is literally no room for failure.

Differences in safety philosophy and approach to well barrier elements to ensure well control and well integrity need to be thoroughly reviewed. Understanding these issues will improve safety in drilling operations, reduce cost of the exploration and mitigate potential operational and project risks.

Deepwater Gulf of Mexico operating area and Norwegian Continental Shelf examples will be used. A case study of a typical well abandonment operation in deepwater Gulf of Mexico with simultaneous compliance to both U.S. 30 CFR 250 and NORSOK will be presented.

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