Government-industry dynamics in the development of offshore waste management in Norway: from prescriptive to risk-based regulation
Petroleum activities are associated with high risks. In the 1980s, concerns arose about the environmental impacts of ‘normal’ petroleum activity. Regular operations go hand-in-hand with emissions to air and discharges to sea. Both have been subject to extensive regulation since the 1990s. This paper analyzes the design and implementation of the Norwegian system that regulates operational discharges to the marine environment. It analyzes the changing relationships among science, politics and the industry and describes how the turn from a prescriptive to a predominantly performance-based approach was fundamental in making progress toward less polluting practices. The article describes how risk regulation was institutionalized and highlights the benefits of involving the industry in the pursuit of environmental protection. It also cautions against a lax attitude toward control and oversight, as complexification of risk objects and the increase of institutional risks can lead to mismatches in risk management.