Digital Technology and Security: How Is the Industry Digitizing To Improve HSE?

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) has pursued a number of activities in recent years related to digital technology and information and communications technology (ICT) security. These have included auditing control systems; knowledge development in such areas as artificial intelligence; remote support; and digital working, and dialogue with various partners in the industry. Digital technology and ICT security have also been incorporated as a subject for followup in the Safety Forum.

Ambitious Plans
The industry is characterized by a rapid pace of change. Work assignments, processes, and organization are altering as a consequence of digitalization and new technology. The companies have ambitious plans to increase the use of digital solutions throughout the value chain.

That calls for a tighter integration of different computer and support systems, sensor information, databases, people, and decisions. Such a development could contribute to more-efficient work processes, replace manual work, enhance analyses, and improve decisions.

Increased use of digital technology could have a clearly positive effect on health, safety, and the environment (HSE) and contribute to greater competitiveness. But this development could also make the petroleum industry more exposed to digital vulnerabilities, with new lines of attack that could lead, in turn, to threats and risk.

Greater Demands
Digitalization poses tougher requirements for the quality of base data, testing, use of algorithms, sharing data across organizations, new collaboration models, training and learning, and mutual adaptation of work processes and technology. A key issue in this context is how the industry handles worker participation, expertise, and training in the application of new technology.

Based on experience and observations, the PSA will be devoting greater attention to following up activities related to developing and implementing digital technology and to changes in work processes and modes of collaboration—such as robotization, automated drilling processes, use of portable technology, and maintenance systems.

As part of this sharper focus, the interface between decision support tools and human and organizational conditions will be of particular interest. The PSA will also follow up company plans to ensure prudent change processes and check the way employees are involved and looked after.

ICT Security
The PSA has been following up the issue of ICT security for more than a decade. Vulnerabilities for society—including the petroleum sector—are growing in this area. Additional funds related to ICT security over a 4-year period from 2018 to 2021 have been allocated to the PSA by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.

The PSA’s attention in this area is primarily directed at industrial ICT systems. At the same time, addressing the vulnerability of and threats to such solutions from adjacent computer systems will be important.

Industrial ICT systems have seen a trend toward greater integration of a number of subsystems, which opens the way to more unified solutions—including control and monitoring from land.

Making industrial ICT systems and associated processes more robust, and increasing understanding of ICT security, are important because these activities represent important barriers for resisting digital vulnerabilities, threats and risk.

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