Lord Cullen receives ONS 2018 Special Innovation Award

Congratulations to the Right Honourable Lord Cullen of Whitekirk for winning the ONS Special Innovation Award for his life long efforts for safety. The award was presented to Lord Cullen by Norway’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Terje Søviknes at the Innovation Awards Ceremony, Tuesday 28 August.

Lord Cullen is probably best known in the upstream oil and gas industry for his landmark report on the Piper Alpha incident.

“The Jury have decided to give the ONS Special Innovation Award to The Right Honourable,The Lord Cullen of Whitekirk KT, PC (William Douglas Cullen, Baron of Whitekirk) for his lifelong achievements as a champion for safety and health in the offshore oil and gas industry, thus protecting the life and health of hundreds of thousands of offshore workers for decades.

Lord Cullen`s landmark report on the 1988 Piper Alpha incident on the UK Continental Shelf has become a safety blueprint for offshore installations and their regulation.

Although he originally was charged with determining what happened on Piper Alpha, Lord Cullen also proactively undertook to develop recommendations to prevent recurrence of such a disaster. Wisely rejecting a prescriptive approach, he developed comprehensive objectives and made 106 specific recommendations to initiate a new and improved safety regime, following which anyone wishing to operate a fixed or mobile installation offshore UK was obliged to submit a Safety Case. Because a goal-setting approach was used, operators are able to choose the best methods available to achieve the objective. It also led to a complete overhaul of Britain’s offshore safety regime, including the transfer of responsibility for safety from the Department of Energy to the Health and Safety Executive.

In the process Lord Cullen benchmarked his recommendations against the new safety regime implemented on the Norwegian Continental Shelf following the Alexander Kielland incident, and even had Norwegian Petroleum Directorate’s Safety Director Magne Ognedal witness in the inquiry. Norway´s new safety regime had been extensively criticised and widely questioned, particularly abroad, but the critics fell silent in the wake of Lord Cullen´s report.

Through his report Lord Cullen bridged the safety regimes in the two leading offshore nations in the North Sea Basin, and set a new, international and continuously improving standard for how to operate safely in an offshore environment.

That standard today is more important than ever: Because of it, all stakeholders – the O&G industry, authorities and citizens, can be assured that offshore oil and gas operations can be conducted safely if a rational, goal-oriented approach were implemented, together with effective application of technology and stringent inspection procedures.

The oil and gas industry continue to move into new waters and territories, both deeper, colder or further from infrastructure. At the same time, the public awareness and expectations for a sustainable and safe industry is growing. Implementation of sound, well-documented practices, and innovation of new procedures, methods or technology within the HSE domain is therefore more important than ever for both the industry itself and the public at large.

Lord Cullen is still an active innovator within the HSE -segment, while his achievements – and impeccable, ethical standards – makes him a great visionary ambassador the offshore.”

About the ONS Special Innovation Award

The ONS Special Innovation Award is an honorary award given to an individual or organisation that have significantly influenced the processes, and or the competence levels enabling innovation capabilities of great significance to the energy industry.

The award is only given when a worthy candidate is found and was last awarded in 2014.
The candidates should be recognised in the international energy industry; still active; demonstrate technical excellence and have great significance over time; and act as visionary ambassador for the industry.

The ONS 2018 Innovation Award Jury:

  • Tarjei Nødtvedt Malme (Chair), The Norwegian Research CouncilEllen Braune, Wintershall
  • Gordon Ballard, International Association of Oil & Gas Producers
  • Hege Kverneland, National Oilwell VarcoKalmar Ildstad, The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate
  • Anngjerd Pleym, Siemens
  • Heidi Fuglum, GEA Norway
  • Trond Unneland, Unneland Energy Inc.