Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority has said that StatoilHydro’s Statfjord A production platform had a close call with disaster earlier this year when an oil spill within the utility shaft resulted in build-up of explosive gases within the huge concrete structure.
Having investigated the incident of May 24, 2008, the PSA has declared that, in its opinion, the incident “could have developed into a major accident under slightly different circumstances”.
The incident occurred during modification work in the utility shaft on Statfjord A when a two-inch plug loosened, allowing significant volumes of crude oil to leak out.
This led to evaporation of significant amounts of hydrocarbon gas, resulting in an explosive atmosphere.
The authority said in its findings: “We have observed serious non-conformities in relation to regulatory requirements as regards how the risk aspects of the modification work and associated activities (project) were managed by the involved players.”
Both StatoilHydro and contractors Industrikonsult AS (IK) and Aker Solutions have been told to get their act together regarding Statfjord A well before the end of this year.
The PSA said in a statement: “StatoilHydro is ordered to review its routines for similar work operations, identify improvement measures and implement such measures by November 1, 2008.
“The company shall also review and evaluate its management of modification projects to identify and implement further measures to improve such management. This must be carried out by December 1, 2008.
“The implemented measures must be followed up and measured to ensure that the desired effect is achieved.
“The work shall take into consideration, but not be limited by, our investigation report following the incident.”
Industrikonsult has been ordered to identify and implement measures to improve its management of activities, including compliance with applicable requirements for development and qualification of equipment and methods; ensuring necessary competence on the part of supervisory and executing personnel, and identification and handling of risk associated with execution of assignments.
As for Aker Solutions, it has been told to identify and implement necessary improvements to its management of modification assignments, including identification of risk and use of information about risk in planning and executing hazardous work operations, including the selection of work methods and equipment, and follow-up of sub-contractors.
The PSA said: “We have asked the companies to provide an account by December 1, 2008, of how they have co-operated with other involved players, if applicable, in the improvement work that has been implemented.
“The companies must forward any comments they may have regarding the notifications by October 8 (this Wednesday).”
But that’s not the end of StatoilHydro’s worries as the PSA has launched an investigation into an incident that occurred on the Troll A platform on Thursday, September 18.
A worker was struck by a steel beam which came loose when equipment was moved by the crane. He was airlifted to hospital in Norway. The Norwegian police are also involved in what has been described as an incident with a high potential for injury. Also, the activities that took place prior to the incident are said to be somewhat unclear.