The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is investigating an incident involving three offshore workers and the release of inert gas from a high-pressure hose during decommissioning work on the Brent Charlie platform.
Anonymous reports on social media suggested the noise made by the release – believed to be compressed gas used in fire safety systems – was heard across the installation, prompting safety fears and concern the situation was “out of control.”
Shell confirmed the occurrence of the incident several weeks ago, but said three nearby workers were unharmed.
A Shell spokesperson said: “While shutting down fully a system that was no longer being used, there was an incident involving a short high-pressure release of inert gas from a hose.
“Three workers at the scene were behind safety barriers and were not injured. As a precaution, two have been assessed by occupational health.
“We informed the HSE and Shell is conducting an investigation, as the health and safety of people is our priority,” they added.
A spokesperson for the HSE confirmed that the regulator “is aware of this incident and is currently investigating.”
Operated by Shell, Brent Charlie lies 115 miles north-east of Shetland, and is the last remaining of four Brent platforms. Having ceased production last year, work is currently underway to decommission the asset before the removal of the topsides.
Last August the company was slammed by the safety regulator after a lifting equipment failure led to a three-tonne, 36-foot long casing string being dropped more than 50 feet on the same platform.
An HSE inspection revealed that Shell “failed to identify the risk of lifting equipment failure and the consequences of a dropped object”, which then led to the casing string being dropped.
In its report the HSE warned the dropped object had “significant potential to cause a major accident”.
Dismantling of the platform is expected to take around two years, Shell said in early 2021.