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Challenging comeback

Yme was meant to be the first abandoned ncs field to resume output, but has presented many problems. The PSA has monitored the project closely to ensure that proper account is taken of safety.

This article was originally published in
Safety - Status and Signals 2012-2013

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Enthusiasm prevailed in 2006 when the new licensees submitted and won approval for a plan to develop and operate (PDO) the North Sea reservoir, which had ceased to produce five years earlier.

The new Yme installation was built in Abu Dhabi and reached Stavanger during the summer of 2010 for completion. It was decided in 2011 to tow the facility out to the field for installation.

A good deal of work remained to be done when the Yme unit arrived on site. But this completion job proved much more extensive than previously expected. Serious structural defects were also eventually identified. Analyses of these showed that, in the worst case, the installation could collapse.

Operator Talisman Energy Norge resolved in the summer of 2012 to halt all work on Yme and to remove the entire workforce from the facility.

One question which many have raised is whether the PSA should have prevented the facility from being towed out to the field.

PSA supervision director Ingvill Hagesæther Foss rejects such arguments, and stresses that the many faults and deficiencies did not come to light until the structure had been installed offshore.

“The decision to move the installation and the associated safety assessments are the operator’s responsibility”, she notes.

“It must gain regulatory consent at key milestones in order to continue work, but transfer offshore is not one of these points. Consent is only needed to bring the installation on stream.”

She emphasises that overall daily responsibility for implementing NCS developments in accordance with their PDO and applicable safety requirements rests squarely with the operator.

The regulations also set clear require ments for the way the other licensees should follow up and involve themselves in the work of the production licence.

“Norway’s regulatory regime for the NCS assumes a responsible industry which fulfils its obligations and operates in accordance with the rules,” Hagesæther Foss emphasises.

“This system is based on trust. Companies in the Norwegian petroleum industry have an independent responsibility to operate safely and to comply with the regulations.”

Norway’s petroleum regulations are largely formulated in performance terms. They specify the level of safety to be achieved, but leave the companies fairly free over how to reach it.

Single Buoy Moorings (SBM) has built and owns the actual Yme installation. The regulations set specific requirements for operator Talisman in monitoring and managing such contractors and sub-contractors, Hagesæther Foss notes.

“A crucial consideration is that an operator has suffcient capacity and expertise to follow up and manage its operations,” she points out.

“We require that it has both enough personnel and the right competence to ensure that safety standards are met in all parts of its business.”

The PSA will be continuing to follow up the Yme development during 2013.