Concerted efforts have resulted in the development and implementation of a web-based early-phase risk assessment (EPRA) tool for evaluating new business opportunities. The tool is based on a multi-disciplinary approach to risk assessment, integrating the disciplines of health, safety, security and the environment (HSE), social responsibility (CSR) and ethics, and anti-corruption. The EPRA tool also includes a module called the Brownfield Risk Assessment Tool (BRAT) for assessing the condition of existing activities.

The EPRA process

EPRA is a stepwise process that includes establishing the context, identifying sources of risks (both downside and upside) and their potential impacts, analysing and evaluating these, and then devising the most effective means of control. The results are shown in risk diagrams that are used to communicate results to the management at project, asset and corporate levels. Risks that end up in the red area of the risk matrix are regarded as challenging, requiring high management attention and the identification and implementation of effective control measures. The process is intended to promote clearly defined and transparent decision-making, shared understanding and ownership of risks, and to facilitate effective experience transfer and learning throughout the company.

Creating risk ownership

EPRA is used to support a work process in which, in the first instance, representatives of the HSE, CSR and ethics and anti-corruption disciplines are brought together with the project team to discuss all relevant risks, both adverse and beneficial, at a workshop. All participants play an important role in defining and assessing inherent risks from their different perspectives and disciplines. Experts outside the project and the project itself may have different opinions of the risk level. The discussions and evaluations aim to create a common understanding of the risks. The process creates understanding and ownership of the risk situation on the part of the project management and asset owner, which is essential for effective follow-up and monitoring. If a risk is assessed as exceeding our internal risk tolerance criteria (i.e. in the red area of the risk diagram), identification, implementation and follow-up of effective control measures - including by management - is required.

Water management risk assessment

EPRA was improved and expanded in 2011 with respect to risk assessments relating to water management. This was done in response to Statoil's recent strategic growth in onshore operations.The revised EPRA includes detailed guidewords to identify and understand risks relating to water access, waste water treatment and water contamination. The guidewords have been developed to ensure that we comply with our internal management system and check compliance with local and international legislation and guidance. The improvements reflect how the EPRA tool can increase individual skills in special topics like water management.