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Notification of order to Statoil – Gullfaks C

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) has notified Statoil that it intends to issue an order after auditing the company’s planning for well 34/10-C-06A on Gullfaks C in the North Sea.

Well 34/10-C-06A, drilled from the Gullfaks C installation between November 2009 and July 2010, experienced a series of well control incidents. The last of these, involving loss of well control, occurred on 19 May this year.

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) has closely followed up the loss of well control on Gullfaks C, and pursued various activities aimed at clarifying the causes of the incident.
This work has focused on how Statoil handled the event and on its planning and execution of the well. The PSA has pursued a dialogue with Statoil and the other Gullfaks licensees.

The authority has also closely monitored Statoil’s efforts to re-establish safety barriers and secure the well, as well as its internal investigation of the incident. A report from this inquiry was submitted to the PSA on 5 November, and its results and conclusions have been assessed in relation to the authority’s continuing follow-up.

The PSA regards the incident as very serious. It involved the lengthy loss of a barrier.

Only chance averted a sub-surface blowout and/or explosion, and prevented the incident from developing into a major accident.

The audit of Statoil’s planning for well 34/10-C-06A was conducted by the PSA in 8-15 October 2010.

It comprised interviews with people playing key roles in preparing for the well, and a review of relevant documents from the planning process in order to identify the requirements, assessments and decisions underlying the work.

The PSA’s finding is the planning for the drilling and completion operation on well C-06A featured serious and general deficiencies.

These concerned such key factors as risk management and change control, experience transfer and use of expertise, knowledge of and compliance with governing documents, and documentation of decisions.

Viewed overall, the PSA has concluded that serious deficiencies have been identified in Statoil’s planning of this Gullfaks well and in management checks that the work was being done in an acceptable manner.
The authority has assessed Statoil’s own investigation of the incident, and has conveyed its comments to the company in a letter dated 19 November 2010.

Further information: Comments on the report of Statoil’s investigation into the loss of well control on Gullfaks C on 19 May 2010.

The PSA takes the view that the deficiencies identified by the company’s own investigation largely coincide with its own findings.

On the basis of the PSA’s audit report, notification is given of the following order:

On the basis of the authority conferred by sections 8 on the basis and criteria for decision, 10 on work processes, 21 on follow-up and 22 on improvement in the regulations relating to management in the petroleum activities (the management regulations), confer section 58 of the regulations relating to health, environment and safety in the petroleum activities (the framework regulations), the following order is issued to Statoil Petroleum AS:

  1. To review and assess compliance with the work processes established to safeguard the quality and robustness of the well construction process on Gullfaks. This must include an investigation of why important deficiencies were not picked up during the work. Necessary improvement measures related to the work processes and their use must be identified and implemented.
  2. To conduct an independent assessment of why measures adopted after earlier incidents, including the gas blowout on Snorre A in 2004 with similar causes, have not had the desired effect on Gullfaks. Based on the results of this work, the company must assess the need for and implement new and tailored improvement measures on Gullfaks.
  3. To assess the results of the work done under items 1 and 2 and – on that basis – implement measures in the rest of the company.
  4. To prepare a binding plan for the way this work is to be executed and followed up. This plan must be submitted to the PSA.

The deadline for implementing item 1 is set at 1 January 2011, items 2 and 3 at 1 July 2011, and item 4 at 10 December 2010.

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.

Inger Anda, Director for communication and public affairs
Email: inger.anda@ptil.no | +47 970 54 064