Jul 202012
 

Bret A. Simpson, the owner of Principle Metals, LLC, has pleaded guilty in US District Court in Tacoma to two criminal violations of the Clean Water Act; failing to report a discharge of oil, and unlawfully discharging oil into the Columbia River near Camas, Washington. The failure to report offense is punishable by up to five years in prison, while the unlawful discharge offense is punishable by up to one year in prison.

Simpson admits that he was informed about oil left on the barge Davy Crockett while conducting salvage operations. However, Simpson failed to have the oil removed before workers started cutting up the metal barge. When the first oil spill occurred in early December 2010, Simpson failed to notify authorities and failed to take any affirmative steps to monitor the vessel or protect it from natural forces and further structural damage.

Subsequent spills in January 2011 led U.S. Coast Guard investigators to identify the Davy Crockett as the source and initiate a federally funded cleanup effort. Ultimately the US Coast Guard spent eight months and about $20 million working with environmental authorities to clean up the spill and remove the derelict barge from the river. Continue reading »

Nov 122011
 

The end of Erika, twelve years to reach a conclusion

At an assembly of the International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds held on 24-28 October 2011, the IOPC decided to establish a working group under the chairmanship of Denmark to have a closer look at what ships are covered by the right to be compensated for oil pollution damage.

The International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds, IOPC Funds, consists of three intergovernmental organisations – the 1971 Fund, the 1992 Fund and the Supplementary Fund – which provide compensation for oil pollution damage resulting from spills of persistent oil from tankers.

The working group, which is chaired by Deputy Director-General Birgit Sølling Olsen, is to examine the various interpretations of what ships are covered by the Funds conventions. On this basis, the working group is to look into what consequences the various interpretations have for the compensation coverage and the obligation to contribute to the Fund since only ships defined as “ships” under the conventions can receive compensation. It is expected that the first working group meeting will be held in connection with the next meeting of the IOPC Fund in April 2012.
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Apr 052011
 
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Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) has asked the industry to propose specific measures for reducing the number of hydrocarbon leaks and well control incidents on the Norwegian continental shelf.

A very positive trend in the number of hydrocarbon leaks larger than 0.1 kilograms per second was experienced off Norway from 2002 to 2007.

The industry’s goal of reducing the number of leaks of this type to a maximum of 10 per year by 2008 was achieved as early as 2007.

Over the past three years, however, this positive development has unfortunately ceased. The figure rose to 14 in 2008 and 15 in 2009, before returning to 14 last year. Continue reading »

Nov 242010
 
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gullfaks C

Only chance averted a sub-surface blowout or explosion, and prevented an incident from developing into a major accident says Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority. The comment, following an audit of a loss-of-control incident in May, 2010, comes at a time of increasing concern over hydrocarbon leaks and well control incidents during 2009.

The PSA calls the incident, which involved the lengthy loss of a barrier  at Statoil’s Gullfaks C platform, “very serious” and says planning for the drilling and completion operation on well C-06A featured serious and general deficiencies.

Earlier in November the authority presented a report showing that both acute crude oil spills from petroleum operations on the Norwegian continental shelf and near misses for such incidents have fallen sharply since 2001.

But the RNNP report from the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) on acute discharges in 2001-2009 expresses concern at the rise in hydrocarbon leaks and well control incidents during 2009.

The results of the study, which builds on the PSA’s on-going survey of trends in risk level in Norway’s petroleum activity (RNNP), were presented to the Safety Forum on 18 November.

Coinciding with the PSA report the Australian government has released its investigation into the PTTEP Montara disaster in August last year.

Says Matin Ferguson, minister for resources and energy: “The fact is that we were lucky with Montara – no lives were lost, there were no serious injuries and the quick, coordinated response from governments, regulators and industry meant that the impact on the marine environment was minimal… Montara was the first major loss of well control in 25 years of safe offshore petroleum operations”.

The Montara report contains 100 findings and 105 recommendations, which have implications for governments, regulators, and the offshore petroleum industry. The Australian government proposes accepting 92, noting 10, and not accepting three of the Report’s recommendations.

Oct 172010
 
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imagePrestige appears to be something that the European Court of Human Rights, ECHR, has a problem earning. Its evident support for Spanish practices in the harassment of seafarers, in particular Captain Apostolos Mangouras of Prestige ill-fame is sufficiently irrational for the International and European Transport Workers Federations to send off a broadside at the weekend calling the ECHr’s decision”deeply flawed”.

In 2002, as Mangouras fought bravely to save his ship from disaster, French and Spanish authorities decided that it was better for the ship to break in two in rough weather and pollute their beaches that allow the vessel a safe haven. It was, at the very least, a decision of outrageous inhumanity. Spain got its polluted beaches, an inevitable and foreseeable result of its decision, and promptly arrested Mangouras.

Mangouras, now well into his late 60s, has yet to be tied before Spain’s criminal courts but was only released from detention in return for a blazingly irrational $4m bail and house arrest in Greece.

At least they stopped short of having him renditioned to Quantanamo Bay.

The ITF/ETC announcement captured some of the Kafka-esque flavour of Captain Mangouras’s situation:

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Jul 182010
 

When accidents happen, SOPEP is your friend says the fifth, and last, episode of Take 5 News Marpol reports available in the Premium library.

Find out more here.

Jul 162010
 
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US Refused The Lessons Of Piper Alpha

It will probably be the last quarter of 2010 when the full facts about the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. For reasons of pragmatism it is likely that much will remain unknown until after the relief wells have killed the flow. In would be enormously unwise too far right now but Bill Campbell, retired Shell International Health and Safety Group auditor, believes that such a disaster would probably not have happened in UK waters. Here is his interview with Jessica Livingston of the offshore website Oil And Gas IQ, with Ms. Livingston’s permission and thank to Raymond Holroyd for making it possible.

At the end of the day, eleven men are dead and families are grieving. That awful sacrifice will not best served by “kicking butt” to satisfy the needs of the soundbite or pandering to opportunistic congressional carpetbaggers but by learning the lessons of the this tragedy and demolishing the isolationist attitudes towards safety that regarded the lessons of Piper Alpha as irrelevant to the United States.

[ powerpress]

Delving Into Deepwater – Before The Blow-Out

Delving Into Deepwater – Tolerable Risks?

Jul 092010
 
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US Refused The Lessons Of Piper Alpha

In this second article, originally posted as part of a post on the Step Change In Safety website, former Shell International Health and Safety Group auditor Bill Campbell B.Sc. MIET C.Eng. looks at how often blowouts occur and its relevance to Deepwater Horizon tragedy.

BIG OIL: BEFORE THE SPILL

This analysis takes information from the CNN programme broadcast on Sunday 4th of July in the UK, that is Big Oil: Beyond the Spill. Data on blowouts, severity and frequency is taken from variety of websites such as Wikipedia and Publickeye.blogspot.com

Introduction

In 2008, according to CNN, over 85 energy companies got together in the Superdome in New Orleans and forked out $3.5 billion into the US treasury funds for leases in deep and ultra deepwater. The economics of any investment are dependent on getting a quick return on capital invested so there was always going to be a demand to drill in deepwater to recover the expenditure.

When the US industry put forward the case to the US president et al for drilling in deepwater in the Gulf they are quoted as saying blowouts are rare events. They were confident they could drill in deepwater safely.

Rare events by definition are few and far between, uncommon, unusual or exceptional. But world-wide blowouts have occurred regularly and since 1955 there has been 44 with a mean time between blowouts in this 55 year period of only 15 months. And the consequences of these blowouts have often been catastrophic.

So the argument put forward by Big Oil was entirely flawed because the risks of drilling are the product of the probability that a blowout will happen and the consequences that follow from that undesirable event.

So if the event is credible, and the uncontrolled release of hydrocarbons during drilling is a credible event on a Drill Rig, then the risks are high, and maybe unacceptably so.

So if the US President had been presented with this data by Big Oil including the International Association of Drilling Contractors (Houston). and all those other congressmen and senators lobbying for Drill baby Drill then he might have had a more balanced perspective.

This is all the more of a concern for before the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Safety Board (CBS) has put pen to paper, and many months before the World fully understands the root cause of the Deepwater Horizon, Big Oil is pressurising to recommence drilling in deepwater. The US public need to be made aware that to do so, without a full understanding of the root causes, would be dangerous and could lead to a repeat of disaster still unfolding.

What does history tell us world-wide?

Detail is provided in the 4 tables overleaf.

World-wide since 1955 and prior to Deepwater Horizon there have been 44 notable blowout events causing 79 deaths, with significant loss of assets and one event in 1979 causing massive pollution. In this period 55 year 1955 – 2010 the mean time between blowouts was 15 months.

What does history tell us about the Gulf of Mexico?

In the 37year period 1964 – 2001 there were 10 blowouts or 23% of the world-wide events. This resulted in 27 deaths or 34% of the deaths world-wide. One event, the blowout on the Semi-submersible Sedco 135F caused pollution into the Gulf of an estimated 455 to 480,000 tonnes of oil.

In the 46 year period 1964 – 2010, including the Deepwater Horizon there has been 11 blowouts, resulting in an additional 11 deaths and pollution estimated on 4th July last of between 333 – 572,000 tonnes of oil.

By comparison in the UK North Sea there has been two blowouts, one in 1977 on a fixed installation, and one in 1988 on a Semi-submersible with one fatality over the 55 years period from 1955 to 2010.

Conclusion

By any definition therefore blowouts are not rare events!

Risk analysis used in the UK post Piper Alpha consider that a safe haven, or Temporary Refuge on an offshore installation should demonstrate by design that its integrity is not threatened by credible events on the installation less than once per 1000 years.

That is one side of the equation. But in any case, a rare event, under any sophisticated quantitative or qualitative analysis, the type of analysis that is mandatory in a UK Offshore Safety Case, would consider risks are tolerable if between 1 in 100 and 1 in 1000 years depending upon the event and its potential consequences.

This is a far cry from what the historic data shows in in the Gulf of Mexico on average 1 in 3.7 years frequency for Blowouts over the 37 year period from 1964 to 2001 and 1 in 4.2 years taken into account the Deepwater Horizon ongoing disaster.

For the industry to say therefore that blowouts could be discounted from the decision to drill into deepwater formations because they were rare events is tantamount to deception. Is it not in the public interest in the US that the other side of this sad story is told.

Bill Campbell B.Sc. MIET C.Eng.

TABLE1: WORLDWIDE BLOWOUTS BY RIG TYPE OVER 52 YEAR PERIOD 1955 – 2007

RIG TYPE NUMBER OF BLOWOUTS
JACKUP 25
SEMI- SUBMERSIBLE 9
DRILL SHIPS AND BARGES 9
FIXED INSTALLATIONS 1
TOTALS 44

COMMENTS:

ALL THESE EVENTS IN WHAT IS CURRENTLY TERMED SHALLOW WATER, LESS THAN 500 FT, BLOWOUT FREQUENCY OVER THIS PERIOD CIRCA 14 MONTHS

TABLE 2: GULF OF MEXICO BLOWOUT DISTRIBUTION OVER 37 YEAR PERIOD 1964 – 2001

YEAR NUMBER CONSEQUENCE
1964 1 DRILL BARGE BLOWOUT – VESSEL CAPSIZED, 22 KILLED
1969 1 SEMI-SUBMERSIBLE BLOWOUT
1972 1 JACKUP BLOWOUT
1975 1 JACKUP BLOWOUT
1979 1 JACKUP BLOWOUT
1979 1 SEMI-SUBMERSIBLE BLOWOUT AND FIRE CAUSING MASSIVE POLLUTION
1980 1 JACKUP BLOWOUT AND FIRE, 5 KILLED
1980 1 JACKUP BLOWOUT
1981 1 SEMI-SUBMERSIBLE BLOWOUT AND FIRE
2001 1 JACKUP GAS BLOWOUT AND FIRE

COMMENTS:

ALL THESE EVENTS IN WHAT IS CURRENTLY TERMED SHALLOW WATER, LESS THAN 500 FT, BLOWOUT FREQUENCY OVER THIS PERIOD CIRCA 3.7 YEARS, MAXIMUM PERIOD BETWEEN BLOWOUTS 20 YEARS, MINIMUM PERIOD 6 MONTHS

TABLE 3; GULF OF MEXICO – DETAILED DATA ON BLOWOUTS PRIOR TO DEEPWATER HORIZON

37 year period 1964 – 2001

Year and Rig Event Fatalities
1964 CP Baker Drill Barge Blowout and vessel capsized 22
1969 Rimrick Tidelands Semi-Submersible Blowout 0
1972 J Storm 11 Jackup Blowout 0
1975 J Storm 11 Jackup Blowout 0
1979 Salenergy 11 Jackup Blowout 0
1979 SEDCO 135F Blowout & explosion followed by fire with massive pollution from blowout on Ixtoc 1 well, took 9 months to stop flow – Est. pollution into Gulf of Mexico 455 – 480,000 tonnes 0
1980 – Ocean King Blowout and fire 5
1980 – Marlin 14 Blowout 0
1981 – Penrod 50 Blowout and fire 0
2001 – ENSCO 51 Blowout and fire 0
10 blowouts or 1 every 3.7 years 4 fires out of 10 events, 1 explosion 27

GULF OF MEXICO – HISTORICAL DATA on BLOWOUTS INCLUDING DEEPWATER HORIZON

46 year period 1964 – 2010

Year and Rig Event Fatalities
1964 CP Baker Drill Barge Blowout and vessel capsized 22
1969 Rimrick Tidelands Semi-Submersible Blowout 0
1972 J Storm 11 Jackup Blowout 0
1975 J Storm 11 Jackup Blowout 0
1979 Salenergy 11 Jackup Blowout 0
1979 SEDCO 135F Blowout & explosion followed by fire with massive pollution from blowout on Ixtoc 1 well, took 9 months to stop flow – Est. pollution into Gulf of Mexico 455 – 480,000 tonnes 0
1980 – Ocean King Blowout and fire 5
1980 – Marlin 14 Blowout 0
1981 – Penrod 50 Blowout and fire 0
2001 – ENSCO 51 Blowout and fire 0
2010 – Deepwater Horizon Blowout and explosion followed by fire – the first blowout in ultra deepwater 5000 ft plus with subsurface BOP installed

Est. pollution as of 4th July 2010 is 333 – 572,000 Tonnes

11
11 blowouts or 1 every 4.2 years 5 fires out of 11 events, 2 explosion 38
Jul 022010
 

imageJuneau, Alaska — The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Department of Law today announced a settlement with Seabulk Tankers, Inc. and Tesoro Alaska Co. concerning the oil spill and grounding of the tanker Seabulk Pride on February 2, 2006.
Seabulk Tankers and Tesoro have signed an agreement with the State of Alaska to address civil oil spill claims and alleged violations of the Cook Inlet winter ice rules. The settlement resolves an enforcement action brought by the DEC. Under its terms, Seabulk and Tesoro have paid the state $429,870. In settling the matter, the companies do not admit to any violations.

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