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OFFB exercise in Florø

Whenever offshore personnel need to be evacuated to shore, an extensive system is mobilised to meet and look after it in the best possible manner. Persons with physical injuries are of course transported directly to hospital.

Everyone else is taken care of in a dedicated centre at the nearest airport, which is also the meeting point for next of kin in need of information, assistance, care and someone to talk to.

The operator´s association for emergency response (OFFB) has established such centres for evacuees and next of kin at several locations along the Norwegian coast: In Stavanger, Bergen, Florø, Kristiansund, Brønnøysund and Hammerfest.

In Florø, OFFB has an agreement with Nordic Choice Hotels. In all other cities, agreements are signed with Thon Hotels.

See also: What happens if

See also: OSEP

Should an incident occur on board the Petrojarl Knarr FPSO, operator AS Norske Shell will mobilise its centre for evacuees and next of kin in Florø. The same OSEP will be used by Neptune Energy, if an incident should occur on the Gjøa field.

All centres are required to carry out regular exercises, and to keep their expertise and systems updated. The corona pandemic has occasionally made it challenging to gather many people for this type of exercises. When an opportunity to do so is offered, it should therefore be taken advantage of.

On November 30, personnel from OFFB, AS Norske Shell, Petrojarl Knarr FPSO’s owner Altera Infrastructure Production, Neptune Energy, Nordic Choice Hotels and Securitas met up for a guided tour of the hotel’s facilities. There was also a plenary review and discussion of the plans and guidelines for handling a possible incident, and the way key actors should collaborate in crisis situations.

The meeting was followed by an exercise on December 1, involving representatives from AS Norske Shell, Altera Infrastructure Production, Securitas and staff from the hotel.

See also: Looking after people affected by crises

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Beredskapskonferansen 2021

Beredskapskonferansen, som er et samarbeid mellom Petroleumstilsynet, Norsk olje og gass, Industri Energi og OFFB, har siden oppstarten samlet personell som jobber med beredskapsfaglige spørsmål i petroleumsnæringen og akademia, organisasjoner, politi og forsvar til å dele kunnskap og erfaring.

I år gjennomføres konferansen på Clarion Hotel Stavanger 1. og 2. desember, med en «ice breaker» om kvelden 30. november.

Programmet er delt inn i fire tema:

  • Beredskapshåndtering og læring etter hendelser
  • Kostnadskutt – hvordan håndterer vi beredskapen
  • Strategisk krisehåndtering
  • Digitalisering og beredskap

– Beredskapskonferansen er en viktig møteplass og arena hvor trepartssamarbeidet i næringen får anledning til å møtes, dele kunnskap og lære av hverandre. Vi har også i år fått med oss svært gode foredragsholdere og det er fortsatt mulig å melde seg på, sier Ole Jacob Haug, daglig leder i OFFB og medlem i programkomiteen for konferansen.

Mer informasjon finner du her: www.beredskapskonferansen.no

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Crisis management with master’s students

“Gas leak on platform. Red helicopter deck. Work permit for three persons in the area. Several detectors triggered. General alarm activated. All personnel mustered in lifeboats, except the three persons mentioned. Resources underway.”

The initial dispatch to the 2nd line emergency response manager is short and concise, and leaves no room for doubt: The emergency response team must be mobilised immediately. As well as the search and rescue (SAR) helicopter at the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre and other SAR’s in the vicinity, and a whole range of supportive resources.

“Three persons found, severely hypothermic. Two persons in the task team complain about respiratory problems. Remaining personnel mustered in lifeboats. Resources underway.”

As soon as the emergency response team is in place, and the most important initial actions taken, the emergency response manager decides to go ahead with the first meeting.

The entire process is based on proactive methodology.

Proactive methodology in practice
In the initial stages of an incident, the window of opportunity is wide open. At the same time, there is little information available. The question is: Should I push the big, red button and muster all resources? Or: Should I wait and see how things develop – and risk having too few resources in place, too late?

The principles of proactivity give clear guidance:

  • The principle of certainty-uncertainty: If uncertain about whether resources should be mobilised or not, you are in reality certain that it should be done.
  • The principle of moderate overreaction: You should mobilise as many resources as to be sure of an overcapacity, to avoid the risk of undersizing the effort.
  • The principle of first information: You should always aim to be the first provider of information about the emergency situation. And the information provided must be correct.

What is the worst case scenario implied in the dispatch? What is the potential outcome to people, the environment and material assets? What do we do? What does the plan look like? And what about other factors, such as weather conditions and forecasts?

Long-term investment
Emergency response manager Geir Haakonsen usually has a well-trained team at his disposal. On November 1st, a team of master’s degree students of societal safety at the University of Stavanger had a go at handling an emergency situation.

Afterwards, Haakonsen’s colleague, emergency response manager Magnus Klem Huseby, presented the findings from a similar exercise —based on the same scenario — a few days earlier.

OFFB has gradually built a long tradition of inviting students from the University of Stavanger, to demonstrate and explain how an emergency response organisation thinks and acts. Managing director Ole Jacob Haug acknowledges the great value of imparting insights to the crisis handlers of the future, by showing how theoretical knowledge can be put into practice inside the emergency room.

“We believe young academics can help us develop, and contribute to our continuous improvement. They visit us and get a glimpse of how we work. They observe and write papers and articles, which help us to advance as an organisation. As such, we see this as a long-term investment,” says Haug.

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OFFB features in NATO magazine

Total defence is a collective term for Norway’s military defence and civilian emergency preparedness.

By the Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency’s definition, the term implies mutual support and collaboration between civilian and military actors — to prevent, to plan for and to handle crises during peacetime, security policy crises, armed conflicts and war.

During the cold war, total defence was mainly about utilising the civilian society’s resources to support the military in times of crisis. This has changed since 1990. Now, the main idea is rather that the military’s resources and capacities should support the civilian society.

One key condition for a successful collaboration, is that everyone involved in emergency preparedness — be it in the voluntary, public or private sector — is familiar with one another, and knows how best to collaborate in handling future crises.

This is also the starting point for the latest issue of NATO’s ‘The Three Swords’ magazine, published by the Joint Warfare Centre. Norway’s total defence system is the main theme of this edition.

Among articles about the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, the Norwegian Cyber Defence Force and Norges Lotteforbund, OFFB is presented to the international public as a unique collaborative organisation.

The entire article is available here (external link): https://www.jwc.nato.int/application/files/8216/3280/9670/issue37_15.pdf

Full version of the magazine (external link): https://www.jwc.nato.int/newsroom/The-Three-Swords-Magazine/three-swords-37

More information about the total defence concept:

Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Justice and Public Security (2018): Support and cooperation. A description of the total defence in Norway. https://www.regjeringen.no/contentassets/5a9bd774183b4d548e33da101e7f7d43/stotte-og-samarbeid-en-beskrivelse-av-totalforsvaret-i-da.pdf

Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency (2016): Reportage about the total defence (in Norwegian only) https://www.dsb.no/reportasjearkiv/sammen-for-et-tryggere-norge/

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Research: Peer-reviewed article published in Magma

This year’s issue 3 of the Norwegian scientific journal ‘Magma’ is dedicated to exploring how strategic thinking and management are affected by the pressure from the coronavirus pandemic.

The subject is discussed in four peer-reviewed articles. One of these is «Håndtering av langvarige beredskapshendelser: Læringspunkter etter covid-19-utbrudd på West Phoenix» (The handling of long-term emergency incidents: Learning points from a COVID-19 outbreak on board the West Phoenix drilling rig) is written by safety researcher Riana Steen and Alf Inge Molde, head of the strategic crisis communications team at OFFB.

Article summary

Today’s emergency preparedness plans are founded on traditional risk and vulnerability analyses. These include frameworks and procedures for the handling of defined situations of hazard and accident (DSHA). Turbulent changes, increased mutual dependency across organisations, as well as rising uncertainty, create challenges beyond the boundaries of a traditional emergency preparedness approach.

The handling of emergency incidents linked to the corona pandemic, highlights the way uncertainty, time pressure and escalating consequences strengthen the need for resilience in emergency preparedness work.

Through this study, the authors are taking learning points from the way the COVID-19 outbreak on board the West Phoenix drilling rig in August 2020 was handled at an operational and strategic level.

Based on method triangulation, the article explores the roles of the oil companies’ emergency preparedness organisations, and the manner in which they handled the outbreak. Analysing the empirical findings, the authors underscore that the key to resilient emergency response lies in coordination and the ability to improvise, together with openness, collaboration and trustful communication between the actors involved.

The full article is available at Magma’s website (In Norwegian only). External link..

Further reading at OFFB.no:

Research: New modelling method enhances emergency preparedness

In order to close the gap between emergency response plans and the way tasks are carried out in real life, far more factors and aspects must be mapped and included in the planning, Riana Steen believes. In a new research paper written in collaboration with the Operator's Association for Emergency Response (OFFB), she explains how this can be done.

Read the article here (internal link).

Sharing experiences from the coronavirus outbreak on West Phoenix

A close dialogue, a focus on details and the ability to improvise were some of the key factors in the handling of the COVID-19 outbreak on board the West Phoenix drilling rig in the beginning of August 2020.

Read the article here (internal link).

Studies OFFB and Safety-II

HSE-work is facing a paradigm shift, safety scientist Riana Steen believes. She now sets out to study the way principles and models in resilience engineering and Safety-II may strengthen crisis response and coordination inside the emergency preparedness room. (Article in Norwegian).

Read the article here (internal link).

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Looking after people affected by crises

By: Alf Inge Molde

“In our experience, there is a big difference between organisations with an emergency preparedness in place, and those who are less prepared. It is difficult to start with a clean slate during a crisis,” says Heidi Wittrup Djup.

She knows what she’s talking about. In addition to being a psychology specialist, she is general manager of the Clinic for Crisis Psychology, formerly Centre for Crisis Psychology, in Bergen.

This group of experts has more than 30 years of experience from clinical handling and research on crises, grief and trauma. It has been engaged in emergency response and psycho-social follow-up in a number of very serious incidents over the last decades. These include the plane crash into the mountain of Torghatten in 1988, and the helicopter accident near the island of Turøy in 2016.

More information: Clinic for Crisis Psychology

In addition to partnerships with a wide range of public and private actors all over Norway, Clinic for Crisis Psychology has for many years formed an important part of OFFB’s emergency preparedness.

Helping the emergency team first
Three persons are on call at all time, all year round. If the first person on the list is unavailable, the phone call is automatically transferred to the next person on duty. All calls are answered.

“The first thing we do when the emergency phone rings, is to gather an overview of what has happened and who is affected. The situation is sometimes relatively clear. At other times, it is more chaotic and confusing,“ says Wittrup Djup.

During the first phase, the most important task is to assist the emergency management team, and to support the organisation of psycho-social follow-up activities.

Subsequently, the team agrees on the way forward, whether this implies travelling to an offshore platform to meet those directly affected, going to hospitals to meet the injured and their next of kin, or to assist in the follow-up of evacuees and their relatives at the Operator's Centre for Evacuees and Next of Kin.

More information: Operator's Centre for Evacuees and Next of Kin

The psychology specialists do not necessarily involve themselves in all relations, she emphasises. Their task is to strengthen the emergency preparedness teams and the operator’s personnel; to give advice and provide guidance, to keep sight of who is in need of extra care, and to keep track of what information is passed on and how. Some may also need to be told to take a break, in order not to exhaust themselves.

There are many factors to keep in mind. Which is why training and exercising is essential.

Care, safety, calm
“For people who have been involved in serious incidents and accidents, the most important thing is to be met with compassion, protection and calmness. We must prove to them that they are being looked after, that the worst is over, and that they are safe.”

“Many of those who have experienced serious incidents say, in retrospect, that they feel safer now than before. They have seen how the organisation stands up for and takes care of them. This is a good thing to carry with you into the future,“ says Wittrup Djup.

Some may need to see a psychologist, but everyone needs care.

Heidi Wittrup Djup

To others, the incident may mark the beginning of a life that is not going to be the same as before. They may enter a time of uncertainty, fear and anxiety. They need a professional, fellow human being who can bear their pain — someone who is calm, safe and trustworthy.

The most common “mistakes”
“Which are the most common mistakes one can make, when given a role in the follow-up of persons and their next of kin, who have been exposed to serious situations?”

“The fear of making mistakes may be the biggest challenge. You may be afraid of invading the other person. Instead, you are standing around waiting, stumbling over your words. But words may not be necessary. A glance, a hand on a shoulder or a cup of coffee in silence might be enough for this person not to feel alone. We must dare to show emotional courage.”

“Some may need to see a psychologist, but everyone needs care. I don’t think it is wise to professionalise being a fellow human being. Not everything has to be technically and professionally founded.”

More information: Call-centre

Some also raise the bar for what they would like to achieve, very high. They want to help, fix and arrange, but things may not turn out quite as they thought it would. Things are going to hurt, and grief takes time. Maybe they should aim to try to alleviate and make things easier for the person in question?

Be careful not to offer up clichés, she warns. They may be well-intended, but it is extremely hurtful to hear comments like “there’s a meaning to everything” and “you are lucky to have other children”.

Managers may become too focused on facts in their communication, and forget to recognise the purely human experience of those affected. Some also end up spending too much time explaining and defending what’s happened.

This is not the time for that.

Avoid focusing on emotions
“During the first phase, however, one should not pay too much attention to emotions. Stay clear of what people were thinking and feeling. Instead, stick to the facts about what’s happened, and the way forward. It is also essential to shield those least exposed from those most exposed,” she says.

It may be demanding to meet the affected in difficult circumstances. But some manage very well when the situation demands it. Real events are often characterised by calmness, and skilful people who shoulder responsibility, she explains.

“Some of the finest experiences I’ve had during crises, involve managers who are able to stand firm in the midst of a lot of pain—people who are wise and accessible, who are capable of keeping their focus on the way forward, and who take their share of the responsibility. It is touching, powerful and impressing to observe,“ says Wittrup Djup.

More information: Our members

Long-term planning is necessary
Experience from major incidents, both in Norway and abroad, indicates that the immediate emergency response is usually successful. Resources are in place, and a lot of people are willing to help. But if plans for the time following the immediate crisis are lacking, there are many who may find that help is no longer available.

When the affected are scattered among numerous employers and municipalities, we risk that the follow-up measures are distributed randomly. Who‘s responsible for these measures? The organisation? The municipality? This responsibility should be made explicit to everyone involved.

When people return to work, their workplace is also affected by the incident. One has to make room for reactions to surface at a later stage, and make sure help is extended. Some may decline the immediate offer for help, but may change their mind when reality kicks in, she says.

However, a degree of everyday normality must also be resumed in the workplace.

Coronavirus – restrictions and possibilities
“We’re still in the midst of a pandemic, where we are required to keep a distance, to limit close contact and observe infection control measures. Is it possible to offer good psycho-social follow-up during COVID-19?”

“It’s a challenge. We’re deeply affected by crises, and we need to be around other people and make physical contact. But we still have to be mindful of infection control, and take measures such as finding bigger locations, and more separate rooms, to accommodate several cohorts. It may not be optimal, but organisations should take responsibility and plan in advance.”

It is possible to create a feeling of closeness, even when interacting through a screen. For some, this may even work better

Heidi Wittrup Djup

At the same time, COVID-19 has demonstrated that there are good digital solutions for video meetings available, which may also work well in a crisis psychology setting.

“Psychologists are using video conferencing as a tool in therapy today, and research shows that this is yielding good results. It is possible to create a feeling of closeness, even when interacting through a screen. For some, this may even work better,” says Wittrup Djup.

It may also be a good idea to mobilise more supporters locally, who can come up with good and creative solutions together. This is something that often occurs in times of crisis.

“When facing a crisis, much energy is mobilised, and unique communities are formed. These fine qualities become visible during crises,” the psychology specialists concludes.

More information: Our partners

The Operator’s Association for Emergency Response, known as OFFB, is a member-led, non-profit emergency response organisation utilised by many operating companies on the Norwegian continental shelf. We provide professional 2nd line emergency response services to our members, and are an integral part of their emergency response systems. OFFB also acts as a resource and expertise centre for all its members.

More information: Become a member

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New strategic alliance to equip Norwegian oil companies with state-of-the-art preparedness training

This three-member alliance have co-created a new service offering called ‘STORM’ – an innovative approach to Emergency Response Training combining state-of-the-art simulation, Crew Resource Management (CRM) principles and an established network of response assets.

OFFB currently provides a unique emergency response collaborative partnership for ten Norwegian Operating Company- members.

RelyOn Nutec’s realistic Digital Simulation training for drilling and lifting operations, combined with CAVU expertise in Crew Resource Management and Emergency Response Management, will equip the Norwegian Oil Companies with the best possible preparedness training.

The companies have named this new service offering “STORM”, an acronym for Safety, Technical and Organizational Response Management.

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“Partnering with CAVU International will provide RelyOn Nutec and OFFB with a unique opportunity to combine in-depth safety, technical as well as organizational expertise into a single Emergency Response Management package,” says Tom Bremer, Managing Director of RelyOn Nutec Simulation.

“We look forward to being able to provide our members with a unique environment for Emergency Response Training. An environment where we integrate and combine advanced simulator technology with standard emergency response training programs”, says Ole Jacob Haug, Managing Director of OFFB.

“Our goal is that ‘STORM’ will equip companies with skills usually required in high-reliability organizations such as nuclear power and commercial aviation. This will enable them to tackle any potential emergency they may encounter,” says Leo Luft, CAVU Vice President Europe & Asia.

“Creating incredibly realistic emergency scenarios will allow the students to master critical CRM skills; situational awareness, decision making, communication, teamwork, leadership, and human performance factors.”

About RelyOn Nutec:

RelyOn Nutec is the world leader in safety and survival training. The company delivers end-to-end solutions within applications, simulation technology, managed services, consultancy and learning for safety critical industries such as oil & gas, maritime, offshore wind as well as other high-risk industries, from 34 training centres in 20 countries worldwide.

www.relyonnutec.com

About OFFB:

The Operator’s Association for Emergency Response, known as OFFB, is a member-led emergency response organization utilized by many operating companies on the Norwegian continental shelf. They provide professional 2nd line emergency response services to their members as an integral part of their emergency response systems. OFFB also acts as a training resource and expertise centre for all its members.

www.offb.no

About CAVU International:

CAVU International is a global consulting company that delivers the safety, leadership and performance coaching necessary to improve team behaviours and organizational culture in any organization where the consequences of human error are unacceptable.

www.cavu-intl.com

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Research: New modelling method enhances emergency preparedness

By: Alf Inge Molde

Imagine that your arm hurts, and you see a doctor for help. The medical expert listens to your story, asks follow-up questions, and performs an examination. She now has many alternatives: Based on the examination and her experience, she may set a diagnosis, recommend treatment and perhaps prescribe medication.

If, on the other hand, the physician is unsure, she may order a CT scan of the arm for a better assessment. By using x-rays, the machine produces precise and sharp images of the tissue. These images are stacked on top if each other, and provide a picture of the tissue underneath the skin.

If the doctor is still not satisfied, the next step is to perform a MRI scan. This scan provides a very detailed and multi-dimensional digital image, which may reveal whether there have been any changes to the patient’s muscles, connective tissue or central nervous system.

MRI scans may also uncover changes to the skeleton, heart, chest, blood vessels, urinary tracts and bowel organs. The technology thus provides a complete, multi-dimensional picture of whichever part of the body one wishes to study.

An emergency management system is not that different from an organic system as one might think.

“Today’s emergency response plans, which are based on risk- and vulnerability analyses and defined situations of hazard and accident, correspond to an image provided by CT scans. By simplifying the world and a variety of situations, they provide an overview of input values and the expected outcome from adhering to the plans. They usually do a very good job,” says security researcher Riana Steen.

But by placing the plans under scrutiny, we see that they are based on a set of preconditions that over-simplify the world and under-communicate certain factors. When faced with unforeseen, confusing and complex crises, these plans may fall short.

Work as imagined, work as done
The analyses are too coarse. Or, in the scientist’s own words: “Work as imagined doesn’t necessarily harmonise with work as done.”

To fully understand how the response process works in practice —and thereby to ensure a deeper understanding of how the emergency response organisation may succeed or fail under different conditions — one has to consider far more factors than is common today.

This method, introduced by the Danish security researcher Erik Hollnagel in 2012, is called Functional Resonance Analysis Method (FRAM). Hollnagel has for a number of years played a principal role in the development of Resilience Engineering, also known as Safety-II.

READ MORE ABOUT SAFETY-II HERE: Studies OFFB and Safety-II (internal link, only in Norwegian) 

The purpose of FRAM is to model complex socio-technical systems, and provide answers to how resilient an organisation and a system are – and thereby to assess how well prepared one is to manage the unknown and the unexpected.

To complete the preceding analogy: The result of a FRAM analysis corresponds to the multi-dimensional image derived from a MRI scan.

A closer look at OFFB
Put simply, traditional emergency response plans are concerned with the input from various functions and processes, and the potential output from these. But the output may not necessarily turn out quite as imagined.

Different variations may yield unpredicted consequences, both immediately and at a later stage. In order to visualise these contextual factors, four additional features are being mapped: Time, control, precondition and resources.

Fig. 1: The hexagon employed to map the six dimensions of an activity/function included in a FRAM analysis: Input, control, time, output, resources and precondition.

By drawing lines between the six corners of the emerging hexagons, one gets a far deeper understanding of the factors’ interconnectedness.

Fig 2: FRAM analysis of the mobilisation phase of the 2nd line, as cited in the research article «The chimera of time: Exploring the functional properties of an emergency room in action».

Together with researchers Riccardo Patriarca and Guilio Di Gravio, Riana Steen last year conducted a FRAM analysis of OFFB’s 2nd line emergency response plan, and the way the 2nd line handled a hydrocarbon leakage incident on an offshore platform in 2017.

Both Italian researchers are employed by the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Sapienza University in Rome. They are among the leading scientists in Europe within the field of resilience.

In their study, the researchers compared “work as imagined” with “work as done”, seen through the multi-dimensional FRAM lens.

Their analysis has been included in the research article «The chimera of time: Exploring the functional properties of an emergency room in action», which was published recently in the international journal «Contingencies and crisis management».

The article is available for free here (external link): https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/1468-5973.12353

Several goals
The article has several goals, says Steen. One of them is to provide a step-by-step guide to how the FRAM method may be utilised to map systems and organisations in practice.

Another is to visualise the consequences of changing preconditions, and demonstrate how changes to one part of a system may affect the end result and outcome.

“The method underlines the complexity of emergency response work. We take so much for granted. But what if the infrastructure doesn’t work? What if the on-duty staff is exhausted? And what happens if one decides to postpone a decision because some information is missing?"

“Time plays a crucial role. In order to achieve the desired outcome, one may have to take action within ten minutes. If not, it may be too late. Training is also a prerequisite for being able to respond fast enough. Through the FRAM method, we are able to see how varying preconditions affect functions ten steps down the line. Context is very important,” Steen explains.

It is a demanding job, she acknowledges. It also requires a certain degree of expertise and an organisation that is willing and open to scrutiny. The rewards, however, may be great. The method provides management with a unique, in-depth understanding and an overview of success factors. It enables them to see what could be done more efficiently, and to identify which parts of the systems should be improved.

By capturing what may be hidden between the lines, it is possible to enhance the quality of the planning as well as the tasks carried out.

Continue planning, while introducing more dimensions
The scientific field of resilience and FRAM is still relatively new, but it has been applied in pioneering sectors such as aviation, the chemical industry, nuclear power generation and the oil and gas industry. Steen has also used the method to analyse Egersund municipality’s response plan for managing floods, as it was put into practice during the extreme weather “Synne” in 2015.

The article is available for free here (external link): https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0951832020306517

“Does this mean that today’s emergency response plans are not good enough?”

”The plans we have today are generally good. They cover normal situations, the ones we experience most often. But the power of this method is demonstrated when faced with the unexpected. And this is the direction the world is heading, with more unexpected incidents occurring, and systems becoming increasingly complex. We therefore have to keep on making emergency response plans, but maybe develop them from a more multi-dimensional perspective, using for instance FRAM as a tool,” says Steen.


Read more (internal link, only in Norwegian)
Suksesskriterier for god koordinering

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Big cooperation exercise in Florø

Under normal circumstances, a large number of offshore workers and staff from the heliport, the police and the municipality, would have participated as mock casualties.

However, the COVID-19 situation has forced the exercise management team to come up with an alternative scenario. The exercise is therefore carried out by extensive use of digital co-operation, explains Pål Erland, exercise supervisor and emergency response manager at OFFB.

Great value
“In practice, each participant will join tabletop discussions from his or her office or another suitable location, while at the same time, they’ll notify, coordinate, communicate and collaborate as they would normally do in a real-life situation. Even though we cannot meet physically, such an exercise will provide great value to everyone involved,” Erland says.

The participants include representatives from the police office in Florø in Vestland county, the state-owned company Avinor, which operates most of the civil airports in Norway, the Norwegian regional airline Widerøe, Kinn municipality, the security services provider Securitas, the helicopter company Bristow, the Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) and Neptune Energy’s emergency response organisation – comprising its 1st, 2nd (OFFB), 3rd and 4th line (UK). The exercise takes place between 09:00 and 14:00 hours.

Escalating offshore
The starting point for the exercise will be a security incident at the heliport in Florø. From there, it evolves to include the Neptune Energy-operated offshore installations and drilling rig Deepsea Yantai at the Gjøa field in the North Sea. To successfully manage such a demanding scenario, close collaboration, coordination and good communication between the parties involved are essential.

The exercise’s overall goal is to see how Neptune Energy – as an operator and in collaboration with its partners – may handle a security incident/legal offence starting at the heliport in Florø and escalating further to a petroleum field offshore, in the best possible way. The exercise will also be a test of the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association’s guideline 003 “Recommended guidelines for check-in and security checks at helicopter terminals”.

In addition, each participating organisation has its own set of exercise goals.

Must keep up the dialogue and collaboration
Ole Jacob Haug, OFFB’s managing director, is pleased to see that the cooperating actors are dedicating time and resources to take part in this type of exercise. He believes these exercises may be even more important during the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

“The activity level among OFFB’s members is high. We must maintain the contact between us, and continue the good collaboration we depend on during an emergency incident,” says Haug.

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Activity levels at record high in 2020

The end result for 2020 thus agreed with the plans which had been prepared at the beginning of the new decade. The way forward, however, turned out differently than expected.

A global pandemic, complete shutdown, a steep fall in oil prices and a high level of uncertainty will remain as important keywords when summarising 2020 —the year of COVID-19. But also the ability to turn around and adapt to the situation, making news plans and finding new ways to collaborate.

The outbreak of COVID-19 in March marked the beginning of a hectic period, with extensive collaboration between the members of OFFB, but also with other companies operating on the Norwegian continental shelf, municipalities, helicopter companies, health organisations, and numerous other public and private actors who play a role in safeguarding the many thousands of people working in the oil and gas business.

During this process, OFFB obtained an extended responsibility for coordinating the contracts with accommodations assigned the roles of pre-quarantine hotels, quarantine hotels, isolation hotels and centres for evacuees and next-of-kin – in case of other emergency situations occurring.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, there was as strong team spirit among oil companies, municipalities and other collaborating actors. We were working tightly together with far more actors than usual, including several of the largest operators on the Norwegian continental shelf.

“We supported those who asked for our help, and we knew we would gain their support in return, if needed. I think this is a good, Norwegian way of doing things. And it worked,“ says Haug.

Implemented as planned
The record high activity level in 2020 can be attributed to a number of factors. Among them are solid and active member operators, and an organisation able to find good solutions and new ways to collaborate.

OFFB also has proficient suppliers, including Thon Hotel, Securitas, OHS and RelyOn Nutec, who secured good deliveries throughout the entire period.

“It has enabled us to keep up the training activities, to develop and adapt our plans, and to carry out various gatherings and courses during this whole time — well supported by digital platforms. This has been reassuring to observe,” says Haug.

At the same time, OFFB has reaped the benefits of having trained together with a broad spectrum of collaborators for many years. This has yielded a tight, high-quality collaboration network, in which it is easy for external parties to get in touch with the emergency response organisation, and vice versa.

Room for more members
The Operator’s Association for Emergency Response (OFFB), is a member-led, non-profit emergency response organisation for operating companies on the Norwegian continental shelf. The membership base is stable, but constantly evolving. In recent years, there has been a trend of mergers and acquisitions among companies operating on the NCS, and several members have become bigger and stronger.

“Our members are operating on a high level, and they have clear expectations and demands on OFFB. This helps to secure continuous improvement and evolvement of us as an emergency response organisation. We find that positive,” says Haug.

Even though daily life in 2021 will be characterised by COVID-19 and risk reduction measures, the operators plan to maintain a high level of activity throughout the year. OFFB still has the capacity to include more operators in its emergency response collaboration.

“We receive a steady flow of requests, from both established and new operators. We have highly skilled resources, ready to handle incidents for both small and large oil companies. And we’re continuously seeking to expand our membership base,“ says Haug.

“Extensive collaboration, the development of plans and guidelines, and a better base for learning from exercises and real-life incidents provide a win-win situation for all parties involved.”