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.


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.”

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