PSA investigates leak at Veslefrikk field in the North Sea

On Nov. 5, 2009, a pit was discovered on the seabed at Veslefrikk which is related to the injection of cuttings in well 30/3-A23 A. Statoil has investigated the incident. 

The investigation has been unable to identify a precise triggering cause, but most likely it is a combination of poor quality cement and the long distance between the injection point and the Utsira formation (target zone). 

Insufficient understanding of the risk and deficient design are some important underlying causes.

The report recommends measures to safeguard lessons learned from the incident in order to avoid similar incidents. 

Background

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) told all operators on the Norwegian continental shelf with wells for injecting drill cuttings to report on their safety status. This demand follows conclusions drawn by Statoil after completing an investigation into a leak from a well of this kind on the Veslefrikk field in the North Sea.

Statoil launched the investigation after cuttings and chemicals injected into the Utsira formation on Veslefrikk were found to be leaking to the seabed. 

Injection wells for cuttings have been found to be leaking on a number of occasions in recent years, including one on the Tordis field in May 2008. 

Many similarities exist between these incidents on Tordis, Veslefrikk and other fields. 

Most of the wells used to inject cuttings today were drilled from the early 1990s until 2008, and are based on the same design as the Tordis and Veslefrikk injectors. 

They may therefore share the same weaknesses, and the PSA accordingly considers it necessary to take immediate steps to secure an overall view of the condition of such wells on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.



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