THE offshore drilling company responsible for running the Deepwater Horizon rig which exploded in the Gulf of Mexico has been given another warning about its operations in the North Sea.
The UK Government’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is concerned about systems which protect workers from the GSF Galaxy III mobile drilling unit.
The US drilling giant has 14 platforms in UK waters – nine of which are now in use. They include the Paul B Loyd Jr, Sedco 711, Transocean John Shaw, GSF Arctic III and the GSF Galaxy II and III.
The HSE has served the company with an improvement notice for the Galaxy, which was published yesterday.
It states: “You have failed to take appropriate measures to ensure the effectiveness of the temporary refuge HVAC shutdown system that protects persons on the installation during an emergency from the effects of smoke and gas.”
Earlier this year, HSE inspectors found that Transocean’s UK verification schemes are inaccurate and cannot guarantee safety.
All installations in British waters must have independent checks – known as verification schemes – in place to ensure that fire and emergency response equipment is safe and suitable.
The company said last night that all workers on the GSF Galaxy III were safe.
Spokesman Guy Cantwell added: “The safety and welfare of our people is, and always will be, a core value.
“Transocean continue to work closely with the HSE in the regime of continuous improvement and we have agreed a timeline with HSE to close out the matters raised in the notice.
“The GSF Galaxy III, located in the North Sea, has safely continued operations and all personnel on the rig continue to safely perform their jobs.”
Eleven workers, nine of whom worked for Transocean, died when the Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20 last year. Its blowout preventer is believed to have failed, resulting in the worst oil spill in US history.
A presidential commission concluded that the explosion had been caused by cost-cutting and directly blamed Transocean, BP and Halliburton for the disaster.
Despite that, Transocean handed out huge bonuses to its executives, citing the company’s best year for safety ever – although those executives yesterday handed their bonuses to the Deepwater Horizon Memorial Fund in response to public anger.
Transocean has always maintained that BP is solely responsible for the oil spill. BP contends Transocean shares liability.