PSA seeks answers on Gullfaks leak

Offshore staff

STAVANGER, Norway -- Statoil has received Petroleum Safety Authority Norway’s (PSA) investigation report on the Gullfaks B gas leak in the North Sea this past December.

”The main conclusions from the PSA are in keeping with the results from our own investigation of the incident,” said Øystein Michelsen, Statoil’s executive VP of Development and Production Norway. “We have taken this incident very seriously, and a task force with representatives of the executive management, various disciplines, operational organization, and safety delegate service has drafted actions to ensure increased skills and good risk management.”

The gas leak arose in connection with the return of the pipeline after maintenance was completed on a choke valve in the Gullfaks B well area. All crew members not engaged in emergency tasks were assembled in lifeboats, and according to Statoil, the situation was normalized within two hours, with no permanent injuries.
PSA has sent a letter to Statoil asking for details of the company’s efforts to pursue improvement processes and ensure lessons are learnt from previous incidents. The deadline for a response is April 29.

Michelsen said: ”Good and informative contact with public authorities is an important part of our safety work…The frequency of serious incidents offshore has been more than halved since 2004. However, when an incident like the one at Gullfaks still occurs, it shows that we still have some room for improvement.”

In recent years, Statoil has taken action internally to strengthen its HSE response, he added. “In 2009 we introduced common work processes offshore in Statoil. This entails that we achieve better and quicker knowledge sharing between the platforms. Increased safety has been one of the main goals of this work.”

The PSA also refers to incidents on the Statfjord field in 2007 and 2008, where incidents arose following an oil/gas leak from the utility shaft and an oil leak from the pipeline during loading. Statoil points out that the Statfjord platform managers have headed a special training program that has helped reverse the trend, with no serious incidents reported in 2010

After last May’s incident on Gullfaks C, PSA issued an order to Statoil requiring an external evaluation of what happened. “This study will look at root causes within governance, management and other organizational aspects,” Michelsen said.


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