There was no doubt that the theme for this year’s safety conference was ‘Working together – in the oil and gas sector’. In the same way it was obvious to everyone that the team planning the conference had been working successfully together in order to establish a conference of such a high standard. The theme was evident from the beginning when around 350 participants made their entrance at Musikhuset Esbjerg.

Musikhuset Esbjerg was, once again, the venue chosen to host Oil Gas Denmark’s annual Task Force Zero conference. Within a few hours, the hall at Musikhuset Esbjerg was transformed into a village of booths that in different ways showcased products and solutions addressing safety issues in the sector. The foyer was buzzing with curiosity; participants were networking, exchanging ideas or merely greeting old acquaintances. Then, when the bell sounded, people reacted instinctively, filled their coffee cups, grabbed a bottle of water, and headed towards the conference hall, where safety and collaboration was on the agenda.

From the main stage, one could see an empty conference hall filled with tables that were covered with white tablecloths and surrounded by vast banners hanging down from the ceiling well over 20 meters up in the air.

It did not take long before the conference hall was filled with enthusiastic conference participants that were eager to see the main speaker, the mountaineer Patrick Hollingworth who, with great references to climbing, presented the participants with insight about team work and how it can generate the best possible result without compromising on safety matters.

Knowledge sharing is fundamental

The atmosphere built up as music played in a slow pace filling the hall with excitement. Then, the pace of the music increased, as did the height of the mountains projected on the screen, showing one ridge after another, waterfalls, and mountain peaks covered in white clouds. Suddenly, the music faded out and the audience was left with images of the mighty Mount Everest. Hereafter, light was cast upon the scene and standing elevated on this was Patrick Hollingworth. With a height over two meters, Patrick stood tall on the stage overlooking the audience, exactly as the mountains he had climbed. Besides being a family man, he is a high-altitude mountaineer, which has led him to climb the highest mountain in the world, Mount Everest.

He started out quoting Ernest Hemmingway claiming that there are merely three true sports; racing, bullfighting, and mountaineering, which caused a great laughter to spread throughout the conference hall. The quotation was also a reference to last year’s Task Force Zero conference, where the focus was on the racing industry, more precisely formula 1, and what it had done to improve its safety issues. The answer was collaboration and the importance of working together throughout the industry to create the right and safe setting for the sport.

The team before the individual

Collaboration is, according to Pattrick Hollingworth, absolutely essential in order to create a safe environment. Whether it is climbing a mounting or in an industry such as oil and gas.

When” interviewed during the break of his presentation, he elaborated:
“The real true meaning of ‘Working together’, I think is working in teams, with very open lines of communication, whose members understand what their vision is, they know why they are doing the work they are doing, they are engaged in what they are doing, they believe in the importance of the work they are doing, when that all comes together they bond with sensible decision making. I reckon that is how you work together and you do it safely.”
Before climbing Mount Everest, Patrick Hollingworth spent ten years preparing and training for the expedition, which leaves you in no doubt about the level of commitment and dedication he possesses. From the main stage he recounts an expedition back in 2009, when he and his climbing team decided to turn back just 200 meters short of their goal, the peak of the 7,129 meter high mountain Baruntse, because of safety concerns.

Rational decision making

The episode, which occurred 6,900 meters above sea level stood out as the essence of the entire safety conference. Whether you are standing on an oilrig or 200 meters short of the peak of one of the world’s highest mountains, you have to stay judicious if you want to achieve your goal and return home safely. It is about conducting rational decision-making and navigating around your own feelings and goals, because mixing these can have fatal consequences. Such a decision may seem irrational, considering that Patrick Hollingworth and his team had invested a great amount of money and time in the project. However, the decision that was made that day probably saved their lives.

Throughout the day, the many and highly qualified conference speakers continued to contribute with visions and suggestions on how to integrate collaboration in order to strengthen corporate safety policies and procedures.
At the end of the conference it was time to hand out the two annual Safety Awards, one in the company category and one in the individual category. This year’s winner of the Company Award was Fanø Kran-Service. The winner of the main prize was Umberto Vergine, the CEO of Seipem. Uberto Vergine received a diploma and check sponsored by Shell of DKK 10,000.

After the award ceremony the conference was over, and the participants could loosen their ties, before sitting down at the final dinner, where they could talk about the highlights of the day.

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