Ryan Crighton, 23rd December 2010
An international oil firm has been hit with another warning from safety bosses over the condition of one of its North Sea platforms.
Canadian Natural Resources has been served with an improvement notice from the Health and Safety Executive after pipes and other steelwork at the Ninian Central platform were found to be in poor condition.
The HSE said the firm had failed to ensure the health and safety of workers as a result. It has given bosses until June 30 next year to put the problems right.
A spokesman for the firm said: “CNR International (UK) Limited considers the health and safety of the workforce to be its top priority, and follows regular stringent inspection and maintenance schedules to ensure the integrity of all its assets including Ninian Central.
“We continue to make significant investment in Ninian Central to extend the life of this key asset.
“Work is ongoing to address the issues raised in line with the compliance date of June 30, 2011.”
The notice is the fourth time this year that the Ninian Central has been criticised by the HSE.
The platform was issued with a prohibition notice – which can stop work – after a gas release on August 11.
Staff on the platform, which is 100 miles east of Shetland, were called to muster stations at about 9.30pm after the leak was discovered.
About 150 staff gathered at their positions and waited to find out if they were to be evacuated, but were stood down at 3am.
Production resumed on August 21 – a week after the prohibition notice was served – but the firm, which employs 350 people from its offices in Aberdeen, was served with two improvement notices.
One, regarding “unsafe and dangerous” metal panels, has been complied with. The other relates to the Ninian’s flare system, which is used to burn off waste gas and clear the platform of all unwanted hydrocarbons in an emergency.
It is believed the leak was caused by a blockage in the flare route. The company has been issued with a list of safety improvements to prevent it happening again.
CNR has until February to comply with those notices, or face further sanctions.
The Health and Safety Executive has voiced fears about maintenance on rigs.
HSE’s offshore head Steve Walker praised companies for their continuing efforts to prevent a major incident – but said more needed to be done to protect the “day to day” safety of workers.
“The management of external corrosion to safety-related plant and equipment offshore must not become the poor relation,” he said.