Duties of the Danish Working Environment Authority

The Danish Working Environment Authority (WEA) has the jurisdiction regarding health and safety in relation to offshore oil and gas activities on the Danish Continental Shelf in the North Sea.

Responsibilities and duties of the Danish WEA

The Danish Working Environment Authority has the jurisdiction regarding health and safety on offshore installations and for certain vessels related to the exploration and production of oil and gas. Offshore installations are facilities for exploration and production of oil and gas from beneath the seabed including subsea production wells. These installations are divided into two categories, production facilities from which oil and gas are produced, and non-production installations, including the rest, including drilling rigs.

Safety includes the inherent safety of the installations and equipment on them (process safety), and safety at the workplace and at work (occupational safety). Health includes health conditions at the workplace and at work and other health conditions.

Regulatory duties include:

  • Approvals of planned well operations where there is a risk of accidental release of oil, gas or hazardous substances or materials that could lead to a major accident.
  • Review of design of production facilities and fixed non-production installations and pipelines.
  • Permits in connection with the operation, modification and dismantling of offshore installations and pipelines.
  • Approvals and review notified well operations.
  • Safety and health inspection on offshore installations etc., including well operations.
  • Preparation of safety and health rules, including implementation of EU directives.

In connection with the performance of these duties, the Danish Working Environment Authority participates in national and international cooperation to build-up experience and to fulfil legislative and international obligations regarding health and safety offshore.

Approvals and notification of well operations

The operator shall, prior to commencement of a well operation, ensure that a risk assessment of the operation is made which among others assesses if there is a potential for accidental release of substances and materials that may lead to a major accident. 

Well operations with a potential risk for accidental release of substances and materials that may lead to a major accident must be approved by the Danish Working Environment Authority prior to commencement of the well operation pursuant to section 28a of the Offshore Safety Act.

If the risk assessment of the well operation concludes that accidental release of substances and materials would not lead to a major accident, the well operation does not need an approval by the Danish Working Environment Authority, however the operation must be notified to the Danish Working Environment Authority as per section 28b of the Offshore Safety Act. 

It is therefore solely the outcome of the risk assessment of a well activities that decides if the well activities needs an approval by the Danish Working Environment Authority or is subject to notification to the Danish Working Environment Authority.

Notification of planned design of production facilities etc.

Before a production installation, fixed non-production installation or pipeline is detailed design, built and installed, the overall design must be notified to the Danish Working Environment Authority pursuant to section 27 of the Offshore Safety Act. The Danish Working Environment Authority has the opportunity to comment on the design, which must then be incorporated into the forthcoming safety and health report of the installation or pipeline.

In addition, major restructuring of existing installations with connected infrastructure and new pipelines must be reported pursuant to section 27 of the Offshore Safety Act. Notifications must be submitted to the Danish Working Environment Authority as early as possible during the design phase, so that the Danish Working Environment Authority's possible remarks regarding safety and health conditions and the prevention of major environmental incidents may be included in the completion of the design and in the subsequent safety and health case.

Approvals and permits

Before fabrication of a fixed offshore installation its overall design has to be approved by the Danish Working Environment Authority pursuant to section 27 of the Offshore Safety Act.

Before commencement of operation from a fixed offshore installation an operation permit must be obtained pursuant to section 28 of the Offshore Safety Act.

Similarly, a mobile offshore installation (drilling rig, accommodation platform or otherwise) must obtain an operating permit pursuant to section 28 of the Offshore Safety Act before it is used.

Permission for operation, modifications and disassembly

Before a production installation can start production of oil or gas, permission must be obtained from the Danish Working Environment Authority pursuant to section 28 of the Offshore Safety Act.

Similarly, a non-production facility (drilling rig, accommodation platform or other) must have a permit pursuant to section 28 of the Offshore Safety Act before it is put into operation.

The same applies to a pipeline before it is put into operation.

If you wish to make significant changes to the physical or operating conditions of an installation or a pipeline and the changes are important for the risk of major accidents, the Danish Working Environment Authority's permission must be obtained pursuant to section 29 of the Offshore Safety Act before the changes are put into effect.

Prior to initiate a combined operation, i.e. an activity carried out from an installation together with one or more other facilities, a permit shall be obtained from the Danish Working Environment Authority pursuant to section 29a of the Offshore Safety Act. Section 29a of the Offshore Safety Act shall only apply from 19 July 2018 if one of the installations is an existing installation, i.e. a installation for which an operating license has been granted before 19 July 2015. Until then, permission for combined operation will be given in the form of separate modifications pursuant to section 29 of the Offshore Safety Act for each of the installations.

Prior to dismantling a fixed production installation, a permanent non-production installation or a pipeline, permission must be obtained from the Danish Working Environment Authority pursuant to section 31 of the Offshore Safety Act.

Health and Safety Case

For any Offshore installation, plant or pipeline a Health and Safety Case (HSC) must be available. The HSC must explain how health and safety risks and risks for major environmental incidents have been assessed and reduced as much as reasonably practicable in connection with the design, construction and operation of the installation. The responsibility for this lies with the operator or owner.

Health and safety case

Inspection of health and safety conditions

The Danish Working Environment Authority supervises the compliance with the health and safety regulations through visits to the offshore installations and the companies' onshore offices. 

Supervision of offshore oil and gas activities

Safety Organization

Installations operating in Danish territory must have a safety organisation that complies with the conditions in Danish regulations, cf. Executive Order No. 1201 of 23 October 2015 on cooperation on health and safety in connection with offshore oil and gas operations etc.

Compliance with the rules will normally require that the safety representatives of the employees are chosen on the installation. Safety representatives and management representatives must collaborate in safety groups and committees for handling and improve all health and safety conditions on the installation.

The members of the safety organisation must be trained as stated in Executive Order No. 1200 of 23 October 2015 on the safety group's work environment education in connection with offshore oil and gas activities etc.

International cooperation

The Danish Working Environment Authority participates in international cooperation in a number of areas relating to health, safety and environment on the offshore installations.

The Danish Working Environment Authority is involved in cooperation with its counterparts in the North-West European region through the North Sea Offshore Authorities Forum (NSOAF), bilaterally with Norway and the UK as well as participation in the Offshore Mechanical Handling Equipment Committee (OMHEC). The Danish Working Environment Authority also attends a global cooperation regarding health and safety through the International Regulators Forum (IRF).

Finally, the Danish Working Environment Authority participates i.a. in EU cooperation on the implementation of the Offshore Safety Directive through the EUOAG (EU Offshore Authorities Group).