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Working in Complex Regulatory Environments

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Working in complex regulatory environments

Recently I supported Noble Colombia in the development and socialisation of several critical documents for their first offshore exploration well in the country. 

The documents included:

  • Oil Spill Response Plan
  • Emergency Response Plan
  • A Medevac and Emergency Response bridging document with the participating contractors 




Colombia has a complex regulatory environment with several agencies involved in oil and gas projects approval. On top of that, offshore deepwater drilling is not a routine activity in the country, so the existing regulatory requirements are not always relevant to this type of operation. This makes it very challenging for oil companies to obtain all the licenses and permits to operate. 

In addition to the compliance with multiple regulatory requirements, Noble was required to "socialize" or present the Oil Spill Response Plan and Emergency Management Plan to all these different agencies to receive their endorsement. 

A good understanding of the local culture and regulatory environment is crucial for this type of project. Having worked in Latin America and specifically in Colombia for many years and the fact that Spanish is my first language, allowed me to have a fluid communication with the regulatory agencies, especially when  more technical discussions were needed in order to explain and justify the strategies  included in the plans, and to answer the questions during the socialization process.  

I worked very closely with the customer's local team in the preparation of the documents to verify their consistency with the information previously submitted and their compliance with all the different requirements, avoiding delays in the processing time.  I also ensured coordination among the contractors participating in the project verifying that their Emergency Plans were consistent with Noble Colombia’s requirements and local regulations. 

We are very proud of the positive feedback we received from Noble Colombia and the Colombian regulatory agencies. 


"Adriana understood the local regulations and the cultural aspects of how the regulation would be interpreted. She worked well with our team, even when our local leadership changed their minds at key junctures in the process. Short deadlines and multiple calls with our project/drilling and local leadership were never a problem for her. She went above and beyond, especially working several weekends with me to help get items delivered for government review" 


"Adriana integrated early and often with our project and local leadership/consultants in country. She provided a wealth of local knowledge about regulations, culture and the need to provide more education on key issues. The local team valued her opinion and requested she be part of the briefings to the government due to her technical expertise and adaptive style to understand the "intent" of questions coming from the regulators. She is a diligent consultant and makes good use of her time."  

Author Bio(s)

Adriana Handszer

Senior Consultant

Adriana is a Senior Consultant within OSRL based in Houston and is responsible for the development and management of oil spill preparedness projects in the Americas and other regions. She has developed and delivered numerous projects including developing and implementation of contingency plans, capability reviews and exercises for Upstream and Downstream Oil and Gas Operations and Major Capital Projects, working closely with governmental agencies. She has also been involved in delivering training courses like IMO and IMS.

Prior to assuming her current role, she held multiple positions in HSE for a major Operating Company, where she gained experience in Risk Management, Compliance Assurance, HSE Management Systems and Environmental Remediation.

Adriana is bilingual English-Spanish, holds a bachelor’s degree in Geology and a master's degree in Environmental management.