OSLO, Oct. 28 (Xinhua) -- The trade unions representing Norway's multinational oil and gas giant Statoil have connected the company's cost cuts with increased work accidents, newspaper Aftenposten wrote on Friday.
Statoil's president and chief executive officer Eldar Saetre, however, rejected this argument and expressed an opinion about more effective organization as a solution. "There is nothing that points out cost cuts affecting safety," he said.
Statoil presented statistics on Thursday morning that showed an increase in the number of "serious incidents" during the third quarter.
What makes it even worse, according to Aftenposten, is the number of accidents in October: only during this month there were six serious incidents on the Norwegian continental shelf and they are still not included in the statistics.
According to the Peroleum Safety Authority, in all of the last three incidents there was a danger of losing lives.
Statoil's statistics showed that the frequency of serious incidents increased to 0.8 in the third quarter after maintaining the level of 0.6 in the last two years.
"We have had a positive development for a long time, but now it looks like it got flattened out and turned. We see now that we have had too many incidents recently and I take this seriously," Saetre told Aftenposten.
Statoil has had forceful cost cuts in the last three years. According to Aftenposten, the administration and operation costs were 34 percent lower in the last quarter than in the same period in 2013.
The trade unions in Statoil believe that this influences safety and have stopped health and safety cooperation with the leadership.
Saetre said, however, that the increase in statistics had also been present in the years with better costs.
"These issues do not work against each other. An effective organization is also a safer organization," he said.
Roy Erling Furre, second deputy leader in the trade union SAFE, is strictly against this.
"There is a reason to think that, when one is in the middle of a dramatic restructuring, with possible loss of work, the focus on daily safety work gets disturbed," he said. "It does not help whether you are a good driver or not, if someone sits in the back and sends a wasp out."
The trade unions have been reacting to different changes taken by Statoil's leadership and are afraid that specially the new routines for campaign maintenance would negatively impact the safety at the installations.
Furre expressed belief that the incidents in the previous week showed that Statoil had lost control.
The Petroleum Safety Authority was also worried and sent a warning about the incidents' increase already in spring.
"We have recently seen that there were many leaks and well incidents and Statoil's name is mentioned in this case," Eileen Brundtland from the authority told Aftenposten.
The company was contacted by the Petroleum Safety Authority on Wednesday and is now investigating the incidents.
"We will go deeper down and back in time to see if there were some connections here that are not easily seen from the surface," Saetre said.