Nov 242010

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.

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