Since last Friday, Valhall’s wells have been part-controlled from Forus. The Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) has given its blessing to BP’s move, but trade unions Safe and Industri Energi are fighting to stop the practice.
“Controlling wells can be about life and death. This means those who make the decisions should also be out there. It’s much better to be part of it yourself, if you expose colleagues to danger,” Industri Energi union leader Leif Sande tells Aftenbladet.
Safe counterpart Magne Birkedal echoes Mr Sande’s concerns.
“Safety is undermined. It’s easier to miss calls and alarms. Most plane passengers would prefer that the pilot was onboard rather than the aircraft being remotely controlled from the ground,” he says.
Olav Fjellså, head of communications at BP Norge, says the company believes the Forus control room will contribute to safer and improved operations on Valhall, however.
According to him, there is still a second control room on the main platform. He explains that both facillities are manned 24 hours-a-day, and that the overall responsibility lies offshore.
“The trend is for major oil companies to move away from huge offshore platforms. We build smaller ones, and several of the new fields are being developed through subsea solutions. We need experts to get the most efficient oil field production. Having a land-based control room means they can quickly initiate measures, without having to wait for a helicopter to take them offshore,” says Mr Fjellså.