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HSE says gas leak could have caused major explosion on ConocoPhillips offshore rig

25 January 2016

The UK Health & Safety Executive (HSE) alleges that the lives of 66 workers were put at risk on ConocoPhillips’ Lincolnshire Offshore Gas Gathering System (LOGGS) platforms 70 miles off Mablethorpe in the North Sea in November 2012. In a case at Lincoln Crown Court, the HSE prosecutor said the major gas leak on the platform could have caused a major explosion or asphyxiated workers on the rigs.

LOGGS platforms - Image: ConocoPhillips
LOGGS platforms - Image: ConocoPhillips

LOGGS gathers gas from a large number of fields in the Southern North Sea and transports it to the Theddlethorpe Gas Processing Plant in Lincolnshire.

The gas releases occurred after a valve was removed for repairs on the platform and a second valve was not closed off. The leak affected the turbine hall which provided power to the entire installation.

A total of 38 non-essential workers were taken off by helicopter, while the remaining 28 dealt with the leak. Eventually the problem was identified and a worker shut the open valve several hours after the first gas was released.

The HSE said there had been two earlier, less serious, releases of gas before the major incident.

ConocoPhillips (UK) Limited admitted three charges of "Contravention of a Requirement Imposed Under a Regulation" on dates up to 1 December, 2012.

ConocoPhillips’ defence counsel said the company took health and safety very seriously and had a good record.

"We hope you will be able to regard these cases as a very regrettable, isolated blemish for a company who at the time took and now takes safety very seriously indeed," he said.

"The company responded rapidly and decisively to the incident without any regard for either the cost or the legal consequences, openly working together with the Health & Safety Executive to address the problems. The company wishes to ensure there is never a repeat."

He said that the company's fire and gas detection system worked and the shut-down system operated exactly as it was designed to do, preventing any fire or explosion.

The judge adjourned sentence to a later date.
 


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