Be familiar with the regulatory standards of the offshore activity

  • 08/11/2022
  • 11 minutes

Due to its extreme economic importance and operational complexity, the routine on board oil rigs must prioritize safety and efficiency. This is the reason why the government itself determines a minimum standard of protection for the integrity of professionals in the sector.

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We are talking about regulatory standards of the offshore activity for those working on board rigs and those engaged in support operations.

With the assistance of Rodrigo Taminato, coordinator of operations and maritime regulations and compliance at Modec Serviços de Petróleo do Brasil Ltda., we managed to review those regulations and how they affect the daily routine of the O&G (Oil and Ga) sector. Check it out!

The importance of specific standards in offshore operations

If you already had any experience with operations on board offshore oil rigs, you know how complicated and varied the routine of all people involved can be. It is a methodology that follows conditions and specifications not found in any other sector of industry and services.

Thus, there are national and international regulations that seek to create safety parameters for each one of those diversified positions.

And you may ask yourself: how varied are the work steps related to oil extraction? Even on top of the rig, there are well distinct specialized roles: mechanical works, works at height, handling of dangerous materials and challenging conditions of working offshore.

Also, there are port support positions: loading plans, operation with vessels, mooring of vessels, general and maintenance operational control. These are totally different activities and thus, they need to be covered by different rules and recommendations.

The routine of the O&G sector is like a full-body organism. Several parts contribute to the efficiency of processes in costs, time and guaranteed integrity of each involved personnel.

Therefore, it is fundamental to strictly know and follow such parameters. “Each Standard, regulation, act, decree have its significance”, says Rodrigo.

Regulatory standards of the offshore activity

As expected by an activity encompassing different roles and tools, there are several regulations applicable to the offshore exploration of petroleum.

The most important among them are those determined by the federal government, while others come from supervision bodies within this market sector. We have listed below the most relevant ones in this routine.

NR 37

Regulatory Standard 37 (or NR 37) is the main text to ensure safety and health on board oil rigs. The ordinance, published in 2018, was prepared to define basic parameters to protect the integrity of professionals in the most diversified offshore activities.

It is a comprehensive text covering all considered risk elements, from the direct use to support to work routine. Therefore, some of the points considered by the standard are:

  • Attention to health;
  • Food and living conditions;
  • Means to enter and exit the rig (arrival and departure);
  • Electric facilities, boilers, pipelines and other structural components;
  • Storage of harmful substances, in particular, petroleum;
  • Specific PPE’s for each activity.

In addition of guiding the ideal scenario for operation and planning of each one of those requirements, NR 37 provides administrative priorities in terms of worker safety.

Among such requirements we can list preventive maintenance, emergency response plan and planning and control of leaks, fires and explosions.

Finally, the NR also sets standards related to health and safety inspections and investigation of accidents when setting responsibilities and correction of eventual issues.

Other important standards

Despite the fact it is the most straightforward standard on activities carried out on board oil rigs, NR 37 is not the only governmental standard that is to be respected. After all, as already said, drilling is only a part of the offshore activity, and other common factors and diversified roles also deserve some attention. These are some the applicable regulations:

  • NR 06: is the general parameter for professional operations on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE);
  • NR 26: concerning the use of appropriate signaling on board ships, ports and rigs for prevention of accidents and instruction of crewmembers in emergency situations;
  • NR 29: general determination of the government providing for the protection against occupational diseases and accidents, including planning and deployment of first aid, particularly for port work;
  • NR 30: standard similar to the above, but focused on particularities of the waterway work – professionals on board vessels;
  • NR 35: text regulating protections, processes and the required training for work at height – common in oil rigs.

In addition to Regulatory Standards, Rodrigo also highlights other agencies with specific standards: NORMAM (Maritime Authority Standards), IMO (International Maritime Organization) conventions and the technical regulation for operational safety issued by ANP (National Agency of Petroleum, Natural Gas and Biofuels).

Need for specialized aid

We can see now that the offshore operation will always involve different process, professionals and tools. It means that a safe and healthy routine for the involved personnel depends on the education and respect toward standards by all – companies and clients.

Ensuring compliance with such regulations is not only a matter of life protection, but is the main goal of a safe operation.

Also, considering rules and adapting processes meeting strict standards means to provide efficiency and tranquility for workers. People with a high level of trust tend to work better.

Not to mention that planning and preventive maintenance reduce unexpected costs and even the interruption of oil exploration in the event of an incident.

Therefore, having specialized assistance at this point is very important. The correct shipping agency is also equally important for operators of rigs and platforms, as they are the ones representing them before the Navy, Anvisa and before other public bodies in charge of managing processes involving inspections and renewals of certificates, contributing, thus, to the management of the process applicable to regulatory standards. Expertise has a considerable weight in that choice.

Regulatory standards of the offshore activity are enacted to ensure safety, but also to facilitate the work of all parties of the sector. If said parties are committed to strictly follow those recommendations, all win.

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