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By NBF News
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By Bolaji Ajala
THE department of petroleum resources has highlighted some of the challenges encountered by operators in achieving Health, Safety and Environmental, HSE, compliance in deepwater facility development projects.

Adding that the Nigerian petroleum regulations and status has provided that adequacy of safety provision be achieved from concept selection stage through operations to decommissioning.

This was contained in the DPR in-house journal, and stated further  that an immediate challenge in DPR was to gain a better understanding of the deepwater environment and the particular technological and regulatory issues that arise from operating at these depths.

The statement reads in part 'Up to this time there is no adequate research of the deep sea in general and the Nigeria deepwater community is yet to establish any data on any of the critical environmental issues  like the socioeconomic effects of deepwater activity on ports and coastal support facilities, location and avoidance of deepwater benthic communities, and so on.'

'DPR recognized that there were technological issues that had to be addressed and a need for a different regulatory framework for the deep water than what existed for the continental shelf. Industry just left the DPR to utilize the existing regulations to address the unique technological challenges posed by deepwater operations.

'The non cooperative attitude has not allowed operations to move forward without undue delays while meeting DPR'S safety and environmental protection mandates becomes a mere dream as waiver requests are always being submitted to DPR for approval.

'Deepwater activities represent a new set of challenges from a regulatory perspective, particularly when there is an inability to directly interact with the production equipment, as in the case with subsea development.

'The industry is not doing enough to assist the regulatory authority to understand and keep pace with technological developments, which could simply provide at least an equivalent level of safety and protection as existing systems.' He said.

Speaking further on the challenges facing DPR on HSE issues, Sarki noted that, 'the DPR is aware of the increasing need for offshore support facilities for equipment and consumables, temporary housing of personnel, emergency landing facilities for aircraft, field hospital, offloading terminals, and central gathering facilities, shuttle tanker transport of produced hydrocarbons, waste management, and aquaculture initiatives. With each new proposal, environmental and technological challenges emerge.

'The role DPR will play in these non routine initiatives designed to support deepwater development in Nigeria will evolve as individual projects become more certain. He noted.

Engr Sark also noted the efforts DPR is taking in achieving HSE, compliance in deepwater facilities development projects as saying that 'rather than develop new regulations that would be out of date before they are implemented, DPR has chosen to work within the existing regulatory framework by developing some enhancements and flexibility to allow difference in deepwater operations to be fully addressed.

'The DPR demonstrated a willingness to discuss alternatives with industry, and an improved sharing of information has developed as a result of discussion between agency staff and operators.'

'At the same time DRP draws the line when we believe a company's interest in fast tracking a project has the potential to jeopardize performance.'

'The DPR reviews deepwater development activities from a total system perspective, emphasizing operational safety, environmental protection, and conservation of natural resources.' He noted.

Sarki however advised that 'given the unknown aspects of what awaits discovery in ever- deeper waters, we must be environmentally vigilant. It is sitting on us to use emerging technology being developed, such as remotely operated vehicles and ever-improving sensors, to further our understanding of these deep resources.

A challenge for our future is to be ready and able to assess, protect, and possibly use these resources in a sustainable manner.'