Red flags should have been raised in half of all health and safety incidents in the Norwegian sector prior to the mishap, according to new research.
The study also found that about 28% of incidents that required a follow-up investigation could have been avoided if the responsible party had carried out the necessary inspections, tests or maintenance work properly.
Norwegian safety body the Petroleum Safety Authority said should the work have been carried out, the error or contributing factor resulting in the incident would “likely” have been identified before any issues arose.
A further 25% of offshore mishaps were blamed on the incorrect use or maintenance of equipment.
The statistics come from a multidisciplinary project conducted by the Norway based research centres the Scandinavian Institute of Maritime Law, Menon Economics and technicians at the Christian Michelsen Research Centre.
Marianne Løvås Sagerup, associate at the law firm CLP and responsible for the legal analyses of the Institute of Maritime Law, said the primary objective of the research was to explore what extent product specification and documentation in the oil and gas industry affects procurement costs.
But the study soon exposed the fact that many firms fail to take on board lessons learned elsewhere in the industry, while others simply cannot provide the necessary paperwork to go with each piece of specific equipment.
She said the individual requirements of each company resulted in a “heavy burden of requirements” between the supplier and the operator of machinery.
Sagerup said: “This results in different ‘versions’ of the same equipment from project to project, resulting in extensive administrative work and a need for technical clarifications among all involved parties.
“This results in more expensive equipment than necessary, but also create a huge pile of documentation for each equipment type. This increases the risk that safety critical documentation – for operating and maintaining the equipment – “drowns” in the day-to-day operation.”
Sagerup added: “Most surprising is that the companies seem to have a hard time learning from other companies and their mistakes, and some even have a hard time learning from their own mistakes.
“In many of the investigation reports from PSA, it is stated that the company has received information on problems relating to equipment without being able to follow-up.
“Sometimes a specific issue have been resolved at one installation, and then resulting in an incident at a later stage at another facility with the same operator.
“As an example, a PSA report drafted in February 2016 after supervision at Ula, showed that some of the irregularities was already stated in reports to the company after supervision of the equipment in 2013, 2014 and 2015. T
“The maintenance program did not include any information on when and how the irregularities was planned resolved during PSA’s supervision in February. We have found the same type of problems in a quite significant proportion of the reports from incidents and supervisions.”
The research team examined PSA reports and investigations in order to complete the study.
Their findings included:
– In 28% of the incidents resulting in investigation, the company(ies) operating the installation has/have not conducted necessary inspections, tests or maintenance that would have discovered the error/circumstances contributing to or resulting the incident
– In almost 50% of the incidents resulting in inspections from PSA, the safety authority has stated that there have been one or more circumstances ahead of the incident giving reason to concern, in which the relevant company has not registered, or registered but not followed-up
– In 25% of the incidents, incorrect use or maintenance of equipment has contributed to the incident. In many of these cases, the relevant equipment information has not been available/easy accessible. In several cases, especially relating to incidents from the last five years, the documentation has not been physically available at the facility, but found at premises offshore, and sometimes not available at all.