SPE Paper 46740 "International Co-operation in the North Sea Oil and Gas Industry", presented at the 1998 SPE HS&E conference in Caracas, described a system of collaboration between North West European Offshore Regulatory Authorities.
Four years on, this paper describes the successful outcome of two multi-national safety management system audits undertaken by the combined forces of the UK Health and Safety Executive, Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, Danish Energy Agency, Dutch State Supervision of Mines and the German Higher Mining Authority.
The direct objective was to examine how effectively selected aspects of corporate safety management systems were applied by local managements across different regulatory regimes. The strategic objective was to improve practical cooperation between the regulators and to justify further initiatives in the common quest for improved health and safety performance.
This paper, prepared by the leader of the audit teams, discusses how the audits were successfully undertaken across diverse cultural and legal frameworks. The strengths and weaknesses will be reviewed in practical, operational and strategic terms.
The paper summarizes the audit conclusions, which include evidence that remote corporate managements may not have an accurate view of how their management systems are operating across international boundaries. They may not be sufficiently proactive in monitoring and reviewing locally applied policies and procedures.
Strategically, the audits were successful in improving practical regulator cooperation. The influence of the companies audited in setting the future harmonisation agenda will be shown to demonstrate the advantage of company/regulator cooperation. New North Sea initiatives will be described.
The paper suggests that similar practical cooperation between regulatory authorities on the wider world stage could contribute to a more global improvement in health, safety and environmental standards in the offshore oil and gas industry.