For the past two years, Willy Røed has worked as a postdoc at ARCEx at University of Stavanger. His main research topic has been accident prevention as part of the Environment risk management work package.
No activities are completely risk free: If you walk your child to kindergarten, there may be an accident on the way, and if a company chooses to explore oil and gas there will be an inherent major accident potential. However, the good news is that risk can be managed by thinking through potential scenarios in advance and by implementing mitigating actions. The Norwegian oil and gas industry has a good record of accomplishment when it comes to accident prevention compared to other regions in the world and compared to other industries in Norway: Despite almost 50 years of oil and gas exploration and production, these activities have never caused oil pollution on any shoreline in Norway. This is a result of hard work and a dedicated focus on accident prevention in the industry through decades. However, we can never relax based on historical achievements; we will never know exactly what challenges we will meet around the next corner. Then, to be prepared, research activities such as the ones performed in the ARCEx project, are of major importance.
“I have always been fascinated by risk”, Willy says. “In the late 90s, after finishing my bachelor degree in fire safety engineering, I worked as a fire safety engineer in a fire brigade. Later I finished a master degree within offshore safety. Then, I was fascinated by the major accident potential and the substantial focus on accident prevention in the oil and gas industry compared to other industries. When I was working on my PhD project, I realized that the offshore industry was the main catalyst for research on accident prevention in Norway. In many other countries, much of the safety related research has traditionally been within nuclear, aviation and space industries. Then, after 10 years working in Proactima as a consultant, I wanted to spend more time on research, and the ARCEx post doc position popped up as the perfect alternative”.
As an initial activity, Willy was part of a team investigating the root causes to hydrocarbon leaks in the Norwegian oil and gas industry. This work provided knowledge to be used in the design and implementation of mitigating actions in the future. Later on, as part of the development of a risk-uncertainty framework for the arctic, Willy has developed a hazard identification method, based on identification of system characteristics such as harsh weather, ice and darkness. The method stimulates the ability to be prepared for new hazards and accident scenarios in the arctic regions, but also, to be able to take advantage of knowledge that has been achieved in developed areas. Willy has also provided theoretical arguments that improved planning can reduce risk related to major accidents and save money at the same time. This came as a result of sharing the office with a colleague from Texas A&M University with expert competence on planning and project management. It is an example that research activities are closely related to creativity, and creative aspects are not always easy to plan in advance.
“I’ve had a great time being part of the ARCEx team”, Willy says. “I hope my contributions will be used by the industrial partners and that my work can be used as a platform for future ARCEx activities. There may be a chance that I will show up on this year’s ARCEx conference even though I am not a formal part of the project any more”. And ARCEx welcomes Willy to join our events in the future, and wishes him good luck in his next adventure!