“Things have been moving in the wrong direction for several years at the land plants, and we see that this persisted in 2023,” she says. “There was a marked rise in incidents with a major accident potential, while the trend for personal injury risk remained negative. That’s not good enough.”

Figures for 2023 from the survey of trends in risk level in the petroleum activity (RNNP) show that the rise in hydrocarbon leaks from the onshore plants continued, reaching a new high of 23 incidents. While these leaks varied in size and potential, all could have become a major accident.

The land plants recorded 15 serious personal injuries in 2023, with the serious injury frequency rising from 1.33 per million hours worked the year before to 1.42.

Myhrvold believes the operators of the land plants must ask themselves whether they are setting the right priorities.

“Are they working well enough with these challenges? Are they prioritising their resources properly? Are they working well enough as an industry and in cooperation in the contractors?

“And do they realise the potential for learning lessons from improvements offshore, where developments have moved in the opposite direction and where the number of hydrocarbon leaks, for example, has never been lower than in 2023?

“We also see with concern that the identified need for corrective maintenance is rising for both offshore facilities and the land plants. Inadequate maintenance can be linked to increased risk of accidents, and it’s important that the industry takes this trend seriously.”


Norway’s seven land plants in the petroleum sector differ in size and design, and have specific risk challenges. These differences are reflected in the RNNP figures, with some facilities having many incidents and others few.

Since the survey measures the risk level for the industry as a whole, individual plants and facilities are not identified its reports. Myhrvold nevertheless emphasises that the figures for them are available to their operators for use in their own improvement work.

“They are well aware of which plants come out badly,” she says. “We expect them to use their own figures and resources in combination with the RNNP data to work actively and purposefully on reversing the trend of the past few years.”

Positive offshore

The RNNP results for offshore operations contrast with the performance on land. Risk on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) is at a low and stable level, with improvements in important areas.

Key figures offshore:

  • Hydrocarbon leaks: four on the NCS in 2023 – the lowest figure since the RNNP survey began. None of them are considered particularly serious.
  • Well control incidents: 11 in 2023. The level is stable, with the figure unchanged from 2022, and all had a low potential.
  • Structural damage: three incidents were reported in 2023, a halving from the year before.
  • Total major accident indicator: the annual value is the lowest ever, and the average for the past three years declined. No particularly serious incidents occurred in 2023.
  • Personal injuries: no accidents resulting in fatalities occurred in the petroleum sector during 2023, while 25 serious personal injuries were reported. The serious injury frequency rose to 0.6 per million hours worked (back to the 2021 level), and lay within the expected range based on the 10 previous years.
  • Questionnaire survey: responses to this biennial poll showed an improvement from 2021 in most of the indices for the HSE climate and the psychosocial working environment. Furthermore, some challenges are seen with regard to language and parallel operations leading to hazardous conditions.

Further improvements

Havtil called last year for further improvements after the RNNP results flattened out. Myhrvold observes now that a number of important indicators for offshore operations are showing progress.

- The number of hydrocarbon leaks offshore has been reduced to a historically low level, which reflects the result of a purposeful commitment. Viewed over time, the industry has seen a sharp reduction in the number of serious incidents, and the total major accident indicator – a barometer for the industry’s ability to manage risk – is at its lowest-ever level.

- RNNP figures for offshore operations are good overall and should inspire further commitment – not least at the onshore plants, emphasises Myhrvold.

- At the same time, areas which need to be looked at more closely also exist here, she says.

Myhrvold emphasises that, although the RNNP results offshore are good, safety has a short shelf life and that systematic and continuous efforts need to be devoted to it. The tragic accident with the SAR helicopter off Øygarden in February shows very clearly that good results are no guarantee for the future.