Safe, reliable and efficient operation is a common goal for all organizations in the petroleum industry. To achieve this, the organizations must manage the risks inherent in this high hazard industry. Risk management is one example of a capability where leadership can, and does, have an impact on safe, reliable and efficient operation. In fact, poor leadership has been cited as a contributing factor in a number of major accidents, such as the Texas City refinery explosion and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

However, in the North Sea petroleum industry, risk management is shared across a number of disciplines and geographical locations, and so it may be difficult for individuals to maintain an adequate picture of risk during everyday activities. Risk identification, analysis and modeling are typically performed onshore by engineers with little or no offshore experience. Meanwhile, the planning of preventative and corrective maintenance tasks, including local Safe Job Analysis prior to execution of the task, is performed by personnel who may have little or no knowledge of the higher-level qualitative and quantitative risk models.

This paper seeks to identify the potential impact of this distributed approach to risk management and the implications in terms of leadership roles and responsibilities. The paper will also examine the challenges for leaders in cultivating and maintaining a good level of risk perception and communication between geographically dispersed teams.

Work is ongoing within the Center for Integrated Operations (IO) in the Petroleum Industry in Norway to investigate the solutions that IO can offer to overcome these leadership challenges. This paper will describe a case study looking at how leaders can use innovative IO software tools to enhance risk perception and communication of risk between the different disciplines and across geographical boundaries.

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