Statoil’s investigation following the Turøy helicopter accident in April has been finalized, offering conclusions and recommendations for how the oil & gas company can further improve its helicopter safety work.
The Turøy helicopter accident is the most serious helicopter accident on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) since 1997. 13 people died in the accident. The helicopter was en route from Gullfaks B to Flesland, near Bergen, when the accident happened.
The Accident Investigation Board Norway (AIBN) is responsible for identifying the chain of events and causes of the accident. In May Statoil decided to conduct an in-house investigation in order to identify measures to improve Statoil’s helicopter safety work on the NCS, and to learn from the emergency response to the accident.
The investigation concludes that Statoil’s helicopter safety work on the NCS is good. At the same time the report stresses that the industry’s efficiency improvement efforts and increased focus on costs must not compromise safety, emphasizing that a possible introduction in Norway of common European safety requirements will change the risk picture associated with helicopter operations.
“We will follow up on the recommendations given by the investigation to enhance Statoil’s helicopter safety and emergency response. Our clear ambition is to maintain our leading role in further developing and enhancing the existing helicopter safety standard. The report provides a good basis for ensuring an optimal organization and holistic approach to this," says Statoil’s chief operating officer, Anders Opedal.
“The Turøy accident was a tragedy for all those affected, and for the seven companies that lost close colleagues. It is essential that everyone working offshore can be confident in helicopter transportation. We will now, together with the oil and gas industry, government authorities, helicopter operators and union representatives use findings in the report to further improve safety," says Statoil’s executive vice president for Development and Production Norway, Arne Sigve Nylund.
The investigation team’s mandate has been to review aspects of importance to safety associated with Statoil’s helicopter operations on the NCS:
- Statoil’s emergence response to the accident, including interaction with government authorities and collaboration partners.
- Statoil’s organization and activities associated with helicopter services, including roles and responsibilities between Statoil, helicopter operators and other players that are actively involved in the operations and maintenance of helicopter activities for Statoil on the NCS.
- How helicopter incidents are followed up by Statoil and the company’s suppliers.
The main conclusions of the investigation are:
- Statoil’s helicopter safety work has a high priority and is well reputed among external collaboration partners. The company has for several decades been an advocate nationally and internationally of enhanced helicopter safety. Statoil should aim at maintaining its leading role within helicopter safety in an industry facing, among other things, an increased focus on costs.
- The company has a culture and systems for learning from former helicopter incidents.
- On the whole Statoil’s emergency response to the Turøy helicopter accident, from mobilzation in the morning of Friday 29 April 2016 to demobilization in the morning of Monday 2 May 2016, is considered good. All in all the follow-up of next-of-kin, interaction with collaboration partners and the internal organization of the emergency response efforts worked well.
- At the same time the investigation team has through its work made observations and given recommendations about actions Statoil should follow up on to enhance its helicopter safety and emergency response efforts.
Key elements in relation to helicopter safety:
- The efforts to see the connection between factors (technical and commercial aspects) that may, individually or in combination, affect the safety associated with helicopter transportation need to be improved. Based on this, a clearer aviation safety strategy and associated plan needs to be developed.
- The organization of helicopter safety efforts in Statoil appears complicated with many players and varying understanding of the individual’s role in this work. Although there has been no indication so far that this has affected the quality of the helicopter safety work, the investigation team recommends a review of the organization of the helicopter safety work in Statoil in order to ensure simplification and clearer description of roles.
- Statoil should consider actions to facilitate better interaction and information sharing between the helicopter operators and the helicopter manufacturers.
- Statoil should consider whether the aviation safety efforts should to an even greater extent emphasize impact mitigation measures.
- New common European rules will change the risk picture associated with helicopter services on the NCS. At the same time the industry is facing changes that may challenge the focus on helicopter safety. Statoil must therefore elucidate its own ambition of maintaining and continuously improving the current helicopter safety standard.
- In order for Statoil to maintain its leading role within helicopter safety work new personnel capable of maintaining skills and capacity in Statoil’s flight safety department must be recruited.
Key elements in relation to emergency response:
- The company must have more emergency response exercises with preferred external collaboration partners in order to ensure good interaction and coordination.
- Access to the personnel logistics system (DaWinci) must be automatically adjusted to the roles in the emergency response organisation and must be updated.
- Procedure must be established to ensure that information to travellers at the heliports is taken care of in an early phase following an incident.
- Statoil must review procedures and systems for communication handling in order to identify any improvements that can confirm information at an earlier stage and address the consideration of communicating key information to the general public as soon as possible