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Risks in petroleum industry remain stable

01 May 2009

The risk level in the petroleum industry remains stable according to the Risk level reports for 2008 (RNNP). "The PSA expects visible HSE results from the many on-going improvement projects in the industry," said director Magne Ognedal.

Risks in petroleum industry remain stable
Risks in petroleum industry remain stable

Over the last five years, the petroleum industry has set in motion a comprehensive effort and a broad range of projects to reduce the risk level on the Norwegian shelf and at the land facilities.

OLF'sGas leak project achieved the target set for 2008 ā€“ no more than ten gas leaks larger than 0.1 kg/second ā€“ in 2007. In 2008, 12 such leaks were recorded, two more than in 2007. However, the RNNP measurements show that the level is still significantly lower than the average during the period 2001-2007.
This development shows that the industry can achieve good results trough goal-oriented, continuous work, but not least; this shows that the effort must be maintained in the long term, you cannot take your eyes off the ball, the focus must be relentless even if the development is positive," emphasised PSA director Magne Ognedal.

Particularly two of last year's leaks had the potential to develop into major accidents: The oil leak in the utility shaft on Statfjord A in May, which resulted in explosion hazard and major accident risk, and the gas leak on Oseberg C in September (estimated at 26 kg/second). The latter was the second largest leak in process areas in recent times - second only to the Visund gas leak in 2006.

There is every reason to praise the industry for having taken on this comprehensive reporting and improvement work, which the parties in the industry, on the basis of the Safety Forum, have agreed are necessary measures," emphasised Ognedal.

However, this effort must show results in the RNNP measurements, both over the short and long term," Ognedal maintained. "In that respect, some of the projects are already bearing fruit, such as the gas leak project," stated Ognedal.

"Other measures will need more time before generating visible results, while the the risk level surveys illuminate other risk areas in need of effort and attention," said Ognedal.

The number of reported noise-related injuries remains alarmingly high - 623 in 2008, compared with 595 in 2007. The noise exposure indicator shows no improvement in 2008.

This means that major employee groups are exposed to noise and thus are at risk of developing hearing injuries," Ognedal points out. He emphasises that the authorities' experiences indicate a major need for noise-reducing measures in the industry.

There were no fatal accidents on the Norwegian shelf in 2008. The most recent fatal accident on the shelf took place on board the lifting vessel Saipem 7000 in August 2007.

Last year, 405 personal injuries were recorded on the facilities, compared with 437 in 2007 ā€“ of which 34 serious personal injuries, compared with 36 in 2007.

Like the major accident indicators, serious personal injuries have shown a positive development in recent years. In 2008, there were 0.86 serious personal injuries per million working hours. This is significantly lower than the average for the preceding ten-year period.

As of 2006, the land facilities were included in the measurement of the risk level in the Norwegian petroleum activities. However, three years of data collection do not provide a solid enough foundation to assess any trends.

Only following several years of measurements will the basis be sufficiently robust to prepare any trend assessments. Data recorded for 2008:

There were 92 reported incidents in 2008 related to so-called defined hazard and accident situations (DFU) for eight of the facilities in operation. For purposes of comparison, there were 65 reported incidents in 2007.
This increase is mainly due to increased reporting and not a real increase in the number of incidents.
On average, the number of non-ignited hydrocarbon leaks is 1.5 per facility, and seven out of eight facilities have reported this type of incident. Adjusted for working hours, the values vary from 0 to 7 per million working hours.

The size and nature of the facilities vary, and this may be the cause for the relatively large fluctuations in the number of incidents per facility. The scope of construction and modification activities may also have an effect.

The serious personal injury frequency in 2008 (0.87 injuries per million working hours) was somewhat higher than the frequency in 2007 (0.64 injuries per million working hours).

The serious personal injury frequency varies greatly between the facilities - from 0 to 1.96 injuries per million working hours. There were no fatal accidents on the land facilities in 2008. The most recent fatal accident took place at Nyhamna in 2005.

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway has every confidence that the comprehensive ongoing work in the industry, based on the Safety forum, will generate HSE results.


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