Safetec Nordic

Risky business

Safetec was established with only one employee 25 years ago, and since then it has developed into a solid consultancy with more than 100 employees.

The company has gone through several mergers and demergers and is today owned by its employees, some ex-employees and a few external investors with more than a fair interest in safety and reliability. Safetec offers quantity risk assessment, analysis and reliability assessment for the on and offshore oil and gas industries.

In May 2000, Safetec merged with Offshore Design to become Safetec Nordic AS. The newly formed company had 85 employees, half from each of the merging parties. Safetec Nordic then merged with CorrOcean ASA in December of the same year, becoming part of a company of 350 employees. In 2002, the business established an office in Bergen to assist the operational departments of several oil companies operating in the North Sea. The services previously offered by Safetec were then united within a separate division of CorrOcean. Finally the division was then bought by the management and a large share of the employees during the summer of 2003.

Today Safetec focuses on offering services related to all areas of safety to a wide range of businesses. However 80 per cent of the clients are oil and gas related, for example oil and gas operators or larger EPC contractors. Being a provider of risk management, Safetec Nordic’s focus is to provide analysis, tools and advices to reducing the risk for major accidents.

Its services span several markets and have recently been expanded by the employment of new personnel. With more than 100 employees, four offices in Norway and subsidiaries in the UK and Malaysia, Safetec is always prepared for new challenges.

Jan Morten Ertsaas, managing director of Safetec, talks about his role within the company: “I joined Safetec a year ago from StatoilHydro. I came from the customer side and that reflects in my perspective, as I look at how to improve the business. What sets us apart from the mainstream companies, in terms of HSE, is that we perform highly sophisticated analysis within the areas of reliability and safety. We address major large-scale accidents, which have the potential for several fatalities on large infrastructures, either on-or-offshore.

“Analysis is the basis of our operations and the core focus of the business. We recruit highly skilled engineers possessing a genuine interest in analysis and risk/safety to further develop the core competence of our company. However, in recent years we have also focused the on ‘softer issues’ because the plants and equipment are operated by people being part of a larger organisation. We study and analyse the organisation, how it communicates and performs, and how it maintains the softer barriers to avoid major incidents. We need to further understand why and how an incident occurs, not just from the technical perspective.

“That is one of the issues that we have been working towards solving over the last three or four years. In this time we have developed a method to analyse the organisation of our clients’ operations to identify potential causes for incidents and why pre-existing preventative methods may not be effective. To simplify, we may say that we are investigating incidents that have not happened yet, to provide a greater level of overall safety.”

The approach has become a big focus for the company in recent years. “We have been engaged in a development project with Statoil over the last three years to establish a tool or method to assess the quality of the soft barriers and to identify the root causes for why these may fail,” Jan reports. “The method has been tested on a few plants on-and-offshore. We’re now developing the method further and looking to provide this method to every industry we serve.”

Jan Morten elaborates on the different industries served by Safetec: “Eighty per cent of the work that we carry out is related to oil and gas. We have also moved onshore and the remaining 20 per cent of our business is land based, addressing land based industry, transport (road, rail and aviation) as well as governmental services.

“Having joined the business from Statoil in 2008 I look at Safetec from the client’s point of view and my focus is how our products and services can be useful in day-to-day operations, and how we can make sure that clients we’re serving make use of the knowledge we present to them. My view is that it is better to provide this knowledge to the client through advanced training to demonstrate how it can be used in a practical application, rather than merely presenting the client with a written report.”

Safetec has a number of oil and gas clients, which have begun to implement training based on the company’s risk assessment work. The incidents and near misses that are recorded, and the analysis that is carried out as a result, are helping to protect against future hazards. Jan Morten explains: “The main advantage of working with safety and risk is that we find with oil and gas, the hazard is present but so is the awareness of how major incidents can damage the company. These risks are now increasingly understood across all the industries and government bodies that we serve.”

Moving forwards, Jan Morten explains how he would like Safetec to direct its operations further: “In the future, we will be experts in the area of in-depth analysis, both technically and organisationally. We will also ensure that the knowledge we provide is applied appropriately within our clients’ businesses, by finding ways of co-operating with other highly qualified companies with complementary knowledge. In that way we should be able to provide a complete service of quantitative risk assessment.

“I see there is room for us to grow in Norway and in the UK, as well as in other parts of the world. My prediction is that there is room still for slight growth within oil and gas both in Norway and the UK, but the larger potential for growth within oil and gas will be in other in other parts of the world. An even more important area for growth will be the services that we can provide to land based industry and governmental services.”

Safetec Nordic

Services: Quantity risk assessment