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Notice of orders after investigation of Mongstad gas leak

The PSA has investigated a gas leak at the Mongstad plant near Bergen on 25 October 2016. Serious breaches of the regulations were identified, and the PSA has given operator company Statoil notice of two orders.


Hydrogen-rich gas escaped on 25 October 2017 during work on a petrol plant at the Mongstad refinery. The leak occurred when an operator, after gas had been detected in the area, attempted to operate a valve. That caused the pipe end carrying the valve to break off so that the gas could freely escape. The pipe had rusted through owing to corrosion under insulation (CUI).

Emergency shutdown and manual blowdown were initiated, and personnel evacuated the plant.

Known
CUI is a known problem at Mongstad. Another serious incident caused by CUI, involving a steam leak, occurred at Mongstad in 2012. This incident  was investigated by both Statoil and the PSA. Other and less serious leaks have occurred in the meantime.

Potential
Under slightly different circumstances, the gas leak could have caused loss of human life.

Nonconformities
Serious breaches of the regulations have been identified by the investigation.

  • The plant has not been maintained to an acceptable standard.
  • Risk assessment before commencing an activity has been inadequate.

On the basis of the findings from its investigation, the PSA has given Statoil the following notice of orders:
Pursuant to section 69 of the framework regulations on administrative decisions, see section 58 of the technical and operational regulations on maintenance, we order Statoil to establish robust plans for the surface protection programme at the plant in terms of resources and time. The plans must ensure that the plant at Mongstad is maintained to an acceptable standard. See section 7.1.1 of the report.

Pursuant to section 69 of the framework regulations on administrative decisions, see section 55 of the technical and operational regulations on planning, we order Statoil to establish measures which ensure that risk related to further planning and execution of the surface protection programme at the plant is assessed and dealt with in an acceptable manner. See section 7.1.2 of the report.

The deadline for complying with these orders is 28 April 2017. The PSA must be notified when the orders have been complied with.

The report describes identified nonconformities in addition to those which form the basis for the notice of orders, and the PSA has requested an explanation of how these nonconformities will be dealt with. The report also contains observations where a potential for improvement exists, and the PSA wants Statoil’s assessment of these.

Explanation of the terms "order" and "notification of order"
An order is an administrative decision made pursuant to the regulations. Before the PSA issues an order, the Authority generally sends a "notification of order" to the affected companies.

A notification of order is neither an instrument nor a notice of sanctions, but a step in the PSA's case processing in which we request the party to assess the factual basis. The notification is only the first step before an administrative decision is made.

An order is a strongly preventive instrument which is legally binding on the recipient.

Eileen Brundtland, Press contact
Email: eileen.brundtland@ptil.no | +47 51 87 35 12