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Regulator identifies serious breaches of safety regulations on Equinor’s Oseberg A platform

26 June 2019

The Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA), Norway’s oil and gas safety regulatory body, has ordered Equinor to rectify serious breaches of regulations relating to the alarm systems in the control room on the Oseberg A platform in the northern North Sea. This follows an audit of these systems in March 2019.

Oseberg A flanked by the B & D platforms - Image: Equinor
Oseberg A flanked by the B & D platforms - Image: Equinor

PSA said the objective of the audit was to investigate whether the alarm systems at Oseberg A provided the operators with the necessary support in managing the processing facility during normal operations, in the event of disturbances, and in the event of incidents, measured against the company's own and regulatory requirements.

In addition, Equinor’s mapping and follow-up of human factors and physical working environment conditions in the control room were assessed. The audit also included an assessment of the competency assurance, training and instruction of the operators.

During the audit, three non-conformities and two improvement points were identified.

Non-conformities identified were:
*  Defective design of the alarm system in the control room
*  A very high number of standing alarms on the screen system in the control room
*  Inadequate systematic mapping of health and working environment risk in the control room

Improvement points were:
*  Instruction and training of operators in the control room
*  No distinction is made between deterioration and error codes from gas detectors

It also emerged that there was extensive use of overtime at Oseberg A, including among control room personnel.

On the basis of the observations in the audit, PSA ordered Equinor to ensure that the alarm presentation in the SAS system at Oseberg A has an unambiguous and clear display of the alarms’ criticality and the process they relate to, with consistent prioritisation and use of colour.

A time-delimited schedule for complying with the order will be sent to the PSA by 31 December 2019. The schedule shall describe how this work is to be performed and followed up and when the order will have been complied with.

The control room on Oseberg A serves the entire field centre as well as the remote-controlled Oseberg H platform. The Field Centre consists of three platforms: Oseberg A, B and D, connected to each other by bridges, in the southern part of the Oseberg field, and the Oseberg C platform, which is located 14 km north of the Field Centre.

The Oseberg field itself is situated 140 km north-west of Bergen and the operator is Equinor, in partnership with Petoro, Total, ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips.

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