Down with documentation

The number of documents in the Norwegian oil sector has become irritatingly large. So government and industry are collaborating to do something about them.

| Astri Sivertsen

Statfjord B.

Statfjord B.
(Photo: Harald Pettersen/Statoil)


“You can have too much information,” says Bjørn Thomas Bache at the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA), which has launched a project to help cut documentation in the petroleum business.

“Important details can drown in this flood. And we’ve unfortunately seen many examples of safety-critical data which fail to be spotted.”

With many years of experience from big oil industry suppliers, Bache heads the joint project between the government, three operators, three main contractors and three equipment providers.

Work in the project is confined to life-cycle information (LCI), and the companies taking part have been chosen because they have a relationship with each other.

Moreover, the selected suppliers also have customers across the industrial spectrum, and can thereby see differences between the petroleum sector and other industry.

Safety regulation is a threetier pyramid, topped by the overall functional or performance- based regulations set by the government.

Below these come the industry- wide standards, while the internal requirements and norms set by each company form the bottom layer.

The functional regulations have not changed over the years, Bache notes. But it is a different story where industrial standards are concerned.

Individual technical disciplines feature a good deal of compartmentalised (or “silo”) thinking, even though the aim is integrated systems rather than specifying sets of components.

But solutions will be substandard unless their designers are prepared to look beyond their own specialised field, Bache says. The same applies to documentation.

“We’re becoming aware that things have got a bit over-specified, and that also represents a safety risk. Systems get too complicated in terms of maintenance and safe operation.”

He also points to poor updating of key industry standards. Norway’s Norsok Z-001 norm, which sets documentation requirements for technical equipment, was last revised in 1998, for example.

According to Bache, the result is that the players have produced their own standards. Company-specific requirements are rife in the various disciplines.

After meetings between everyone involved, the study will lead in the second quarter of next year to a joint final report with recommendations for use by both companies and government.


Norwegian Continental Shelf no.2-2015

Main page - Contents
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The interview: Petroleum minister calls on companies to invest
Thinking outside the box made Maria’s development possible
Special report: 50 years
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Eldar Myhre and son Aslak discuss what oil has done with Norway
NPD profile: Diskos database crucial for exploration success
Making huge volumes of offshore data available
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Rockshot: Tight formations
Geology: Many benefits for society Find facts about the NCS