On 15 April, the PSA was notified that, during a lifting operation, a section of drill pipe had come loose from the lifting gear, and that the end of the pipe fell approx. 10 metres down on to the drill floor. The pipe was approximately 14 metres long and weighed 3,500 kg. There were three people in the area at the time.
The incident has clear similarities with previous serious lifting incidents in the drilling area where Statoil has been the operator, such as on Transocean Searcher (2007), West Epsilon (2007), Heidrun (2008), Stena Don (2009) and Deepsea Atlantic (2009).
An audit has also been conducted on Oseberg Øst in 2010 targeting logistics/cranes/lifts. The audit revealed that Statoil's professional competence in the area of crane and lifting operations is only occasionally involved in important work processes, and then only to a very limited degree. Examples of such work processes are rig acceptance, drilling & wells and mobilisation of third-party equipment.
Both the incidents and the observations in audit activities over a number of years generally reveal weaknesses related to
- special-purpose lifting gear in the drilling area
- actual knowledge and use of recommended standards for safe implementation of lifting operations on the drill floor
- safeguarding the operator's supervisory duty
On this basis, the PSA issued a notification of order to Statoil in May. The notification comprises all drilling operations on fixed and mobile facilities where Statoil is the operator.
At a meeting with the PSA on 18 May 2010, Statoil presented extensive and comprehensive improvement measures implemented by the company within the relevant areas.
However, given that this work has not yet been completed, we hereby issue an order to the company as previously notified:
Pursuant to Section 21 of the Management Regulations relating to follow up and Section 22 relating to improvement, and Section 83 of the Activities Regulations relating to lifting operations, cf. Section 58 of the Framework Regulations relating to individual decisions, we have notified Statoil Petroleum AS (Statoil) that the company is ordered to:
- identify all special-purpose lifting gear in the drilling area and ensure that such gear meets the regulatory requirements
- verify and implement measures to ensure that NORSOK R-003N is implemented and practised in the drilling areas (Note: Statoil has used NORSOK R-003 as a basis for lifting operations in its own management system, cf. Section 5 of the Management Regulations.)
- consider and decide how the company will learn from previous incidents and apply the experience to prevent lifting incidents in the drilling area throughout the organisation
The deadline for complying with the order is set at 15 August 2010.
We must be notified when the order has been carried out.
Order and notification of order
An order is a administrative decision made pursuant to the regulations.
Before the PSA makes an order, it usually issues a notification of order to the companies concerned.
A notification of order is neither a measure nor a warning of sanctions, but part of the PSA’s administrative process as specified in its established procedural rules.
The notification is merely a first step before an administrative decision is made.