Improved risk assessments – To better reflect the knowledge dimension and surprises

The project will contribute to improving the risk management of the Norwegian petroleum activities, in particular the management of major accident risk, by developing a new practical framework for the understanding and assessment of risk for the Norwegian petroleum activities, that gives due attention to the knowledge dimension and surprises.

The practice of risk assessment in the oil and gas industry is to large extent probability based with strict number rules linked to meeting specified risk acceptance criteria. It is a practice strongly challenged by the research community but also by signals from the Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authorities who stresses the importance of seeing beyond probabilities and better reflect the uncertainties (lack of knowledge) in risk assessment contexts. The industry has so far to a rather limited degree followed up these signals, two important reasons being lack of conceptual clarity about what the ideas concerning risk and uncertainties actually express, and lack of practical guidance on how to implement the ideas. The present project meets these scientific challenges by presenting a practical framework - with recommended approaches and methods - which compared to the current practice has a stronger focus on uncertainties and surprises. The black swan metaphor will be central in illustrating ideas and improving the risk descriptions and communication.

The project is based on recent research on risk, in which uncertainty and knowledge are key concepts supplementing the probability-based thinking. The research group is composed of several internationally recognised experts in the field in addition to the core group of researchers at the University of Stavanger. The research will be carried out in close collaboration with the industry, in particular the partners Gassco, the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association, ConocoPhillips and the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway.