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Baseefa Ltd

News Extra: Norwegian 2012 oil & gas sector risk trends

03 February 2014

Figures from the 2012 report on risk trends in the Norwegian oil & gas sector (RNNP) show good progress in many areas, but also give grounds for concern, according to the country’s Petroleum Safety Authority. 

Finn Carlsen, acting director general of the PSA, said there were difficult problems that needed to be tackled by the industry. Major accidents were a matter of particular concern, he said. This applies particularly to mobile facilities and production installations

Serious incidents which helped to turn the overall indicator in a negative direction included the gas leak on Heimdal, the oil and gas leak on Ula, structural damage on the Yme installation and stability problems on the mobile Scarabeo 8 and Floatel Superior facilities.

Carlsen said: “One event of that kind can unleash a disaster. Risk management must improve, and the industry must pay greater attention to managing risk associated with major accidents. Such incidents are characterised by a low probability that they will happen, but big potential consequences should they nevertheless occur.”

Another problem area was offshore barrier management.

Barrier indicators reveal substantial differences in the level of performance between installations on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS). This applied not only in 2012 but also over the past decade, and a number of installations have poorer results for certain barrier systems.

The report identifies a number of instances where safety-critical barriers failed to match recognised performance standards.

“The companies know there are barriers which don’t function as they should, but do nothing about it. We can’t have that. The companies must live up to their responsibilities here,” Carlsen said.

The RNNP figures show that the positive trend in hydrocarbon leaks is continuing. Just six such escapes were recorded on the NCS in 2012 – the lowest number ever.

Figures from 2009 to 2012 also show that a number of players face challenges in complying with regulatory requirements for maintenance management. The problem is worst for mobile facilities.

These challenges related to tagging and classifying equipment, backlogs in preventive maintenance and outstanding corrective work – including safety-critical maintenance.

Other key points in the offshore section of the 2012 RNNP report include:

*No fatalities, and serious personal injuries have declined to 0.51 per million working hours for the NCS as a whole.

Defined hazard and accident situations – Norwegian Cont. Shelf 2003-12 – Source: PSA
Defined hazard and accident situations – Norwegian Cont. Shelf 2003-12 – Source: PSA

*Well control incidents are increasing. The number of well control incidents showed a slight rise, from 13 in 2011 to 16. Eleven of the 2012 incidents were in the lowest risk category, while one was in the next-lowest. The increase came in the exploration drilling area.

*No leaks occurred from risers in the safety zones of staffed installations during 2012.

*The number of vessels on a collision course declined substantially, and the 2012 level was significantly lower than the average for 2005-11.

* The indicator reflecting the most serious helicopter incidents made good progress from 2011 to 2012, reinforcing a positive trend since 2007.

The onshore section of the report recorded four unignited and one ignited hydrocarbon leaks at the eight land-based plants under the PSA’s jurisdiction in 2012.

Other incidents included three small fires, two toxic leaks, 24 cases of dropped objects and one accident involving a vehicle.

The number of unignited hydrocarbon leaks was lower than the eight recorded in 2011, and a substantial reduction from the 2008 figure of 21.

Seven personal injuries in the serious category were reported in 2012, compared with three the year before. But the 2012 figure is the second best annual performance for the whole period from 2006.

The total personal injury frequency for the land-based plants increased from 0.3 serious personal injuries per million working hours in 2011 to 0.6.

The data is normalised against facility year and applies for the period 2000-2011. The data for oil leaks is restricted to process equipment - some oil leaks that are not associated with process equipment have been omitted.

UK-Norway offshore safety - a comparison

The PSA’s 2012 RNNP report contains comparisons between the UK and Norwegian offshore sectors for leaks and personal injuries.

Graphic 2: Comparison of gas/two-phase and oil leaks on the Norwegian and UK shelves north of 59°N per 100 facility years, average 2000-2011– Source: PSA
Graphic 2: Comparison of gas/two-phase and oil leaks on the Norwegian and UK shelves north of 59°N per 100 facility years, average 2000-2011– Source: PSA

Graphic 2 shows oil and gas leaks on the UK and Norwegian continental shelves for the areas north of Sleipner (59°N), where the facilities on both shelves are of somewhat similar scope and complexity.

Data related to barriers against major accidents reveal big variations between the different plants. Certain barrier functions at several plants have a failure rate which exceeds the expected value, according to the report.

The data is normalised against facility year and applies for the period 2000-2011. The data for oil leaks is restricted to process equipment - some oil leaks that are not associated with process equipment have been omitted.

The number of leaks on the Norwegian shelf has declined substantially in recent years, so the chosen period has a certain significance. For example, the data indicate the following observations as regards average leak frequency per facility year for all leaks exceeding 0.1  kg/s:

*The 2000–2011 period: Norwegian shelf 61% higher than the UK shelf

*The 2007–2011 period: Norwegian shelf 19% higher than the UK shelf.

No ignited hydrocarbon leaks (exceeding 0.1 kg/s) have been registered on the Norwegian shelf since 1992. The number of hydrocarbon leaks exceeding 0.1 kg/s since 1992 is approximately 450. The number of ignited leaks is significantly lower on the Norwegian shelf than on the UK shelf, where about 1.5% of the gas and two-phase leaks since 1992 have ignited.

Every six months, the PSA and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) produce a joint report comparing offshore personnel injury statistics.

A calculation of the average injury frequency for fatalities and serious injuries for the period from 2007 up to the 1st half of 2012 shows that there have been 0.65 injuries per million working hours on the Norwegian shelf and 0.73 on the UK shelf. The difference is not significant.

The average frequency for fatalities on UK shelf is 0.97 per 100 million working hours, compared with 0.89 on the Norwegian shelf. This difference is also not significant. On the UK shelf, there were three fatalities during the period, compared with two on the Norwegian shelf.


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