Apr 162011

Statoil's Njord A Photo: Øyvind Nesvåg / Statoil

Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority, PSA, is hauling Statoil over the coals regarding the safety of lifting operations following investigation of a potenially lethal incident involving a ‘dropped object’ weighing 23 tonnes.

The lifting incident on Njord A on 18 December 2010 could,  says the PSA, “under insignificantly altered circumstances, have resulted in loss of life and significant material damage.”

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway’s (PSA’s) investigation of the incident has identified several nonconformities in relation to the regulations.


The incident occurred during a lifting operation using an elevator in the drilling area on the Statoil-operated Njord A facility.

In connection with pulling the blowout preventer (BOP) and riser, the slip joint was to be laid down from a vertical to a horizontal position on the catwalk. During this operation, the slip joint fell out of the bails and down to the drill floor.

The slip joint weighed 23 tonnes.

The PSA believes the incident was very serious. It did not result in actual personal injury and only minor material damage, but under insignificantly altered circumstances, the outcome could have been fatal and also resulted in significant material damage.

On 19 December 2010, the PSA decided carry out its own investigation of the incident.
The investigation concludes that the direct cause of the accident was incorrect use of the lifting equipment.

The underlying causes, identified as nonconformities in relation to the regulations, are:

  • the facility was not designed and equipped for the relevant lifting operation
  • deficiencies in elevator construction
  • deficient control and management
  • deficient inspection of the elevator with associated documentation
  • deficient system for securing necessary expertise
  • deficient implementation of NORSOK R003N, and breach of procedures
  • deficient planning, risk assessments, management and execution
  • extensive failure in the system for follow-up and improvement
  • deficient safety culture
  • deficiencies in safeguarding responsibility, establishment of, follow-up and further development of management systems, as well as deficiencies in the follow-up of other participants

The PSA has requested that Statoil provide a statement concerning how these nonconformities will be handled.

Common characteristics
Several of the identified deficiencies have previously been observed during other audits of logistics and materials handling on other Statoil facilities.

This applies to Oseberg Øst, Åsgard A and B, Troll A and Brage (in Norwegian).

However, the PSA views the incident and the proven nonconformities in connection with incidents and deficiencies that formed the basis for the order following the lifting incident on Heidrun on 15 April 2010, and the improvement work Statoil has implemented as a result of this order.

It is the PSA’s assessment that the observations related to Statoil’s management of its lifting operations are very serious, both individually and overall. The PSA is considering the need for measures on our part, and in this connection require a meeting with the company to clarify how Statoil is assessing the same circumstances, also seen in connection with other relevant knowledge the company has regarding its lifting appliances and lifting operations.

In this meeting, the PSA will also request a comprehensive statement of any measures the company has implemented, or will implement, to ensure that all aspects related to lifting operations are planned and carried out in accordance with regulatory requirements on all facilities Statoil is responsible for.

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