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Notification of orders to BP after investigation of Valhall PCP fire

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) has notified BP of orders following its investigation of the Valhall PCP fire on 13 July 2011. Serious non-conformities related to BP’s management system for activities on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) have been identified.

The incident on the Valhall PCP production platform in the North Sea involved the breakdown of a crane engine through overheating, which led to a fire in the vent stack for the installation’s compressors.

A minor blaze was caused by the engine breakdown in the crane machinery space. Overheating combined with a defective spark arrestor and silencer meant that red-hot particles leaving the exhaust pipe blew across and ignited flammable gases from the vent stack.

Extinguishing the flames proved difficult, and it was decided in the end to use the water monitors on the standby ship for this purpose. One hour and thirty-seven minutes passed from detection of the fire until it had been extinguished.

No people were physically injured by the incident. Under slightly different circumstances, however, it could have escalated and created a serious position on the installation, with personal injuries or loss of life.

Production on Valhall was shut down for nine and a half weeks as a result of the incident.

The PSA’s investigation of the incident has identified a number of serious breaches of the regulations related to BP’s management system for NCS activities. These relate to lack of maintenance, deficient maintenance management, inadequacies in risk identification and deficient barrier management.

The investigation identified non-conformities in relation to:

  • machinery protection of the crane engine
  • classification of and maintenance programme for the crane engine’s spark arrestor and silencer
  • updating of maintenance programme for crane engines
  • fire and gas detection system
  • management of work processes and follow-up of identified risks
  • information on hazards
  • barrier management and handling of non-conformities
  • risk assessment of ignition in vent lines
  • turbine exhaust led to a hazardous area
  • handling of hazards and accidents.

On that basis, the PSA has notified BP of the following orders:
Pursuant to section 69 of the framework HSE regulations relating to administrative decisions, cf section 6 of the management regulations relating to management of health, safety and the environment, section 21 relating to follow-up and section 22 relating to handling of non-conformities, BP is ordered to initiate the necessary measures on its ageing installations related to

  • risk assessment and follow-up of identified technical faults and deficiencies which emerge from maintenance history and in notifications
  • defining and coordinating areas of responsibility and authority related to crane maintenance,

cf chapter 6.1.5 of the report.

Pursuant to section 69 of the framework HSE regulations relating to administrative decisions, cf section 5 of the management regulations relating to barriers and section 22 relating to handling of non-conformities, BP is ordered to

  • implement the necessary measures to ensure that specific performance criteria which follow from established performance standards are implemented and followed up
  • identify barrier elements which fail to accord with performance requirements, establish a scheduled action plan for necessary improvement of deficiencies, and identify and implement compensatory action until the improvements have been completed,

cf chapter 6.1.7 of the report.

Pursuant to section 69 of the framework HSE regulations relating to administrative decisions, cf section 45 of the activities regulations relating to maintenance, section 46 relating to classification and section 47 relating to maintenance programmes, BP is ordered to

  • review and assess its own systems for maintenance management on its ageing installations, and thereby ensure that the maintenance programmes and their execution are tailored to the age and condition of the installations and the equipment,

cf chapters 6.1.1 and 6.1.2 of the report.

The deadline for establishing a binding plan for this work is set at 1 February 2012. The deadline for complying with the order is set at 1 July 2012. We must be notified when the order has been complied with.

Explanation of the terms ”order” and ”notification of order”
An order is an administrative decision pursuant to the regulations. Before we issue an order, we normally send a “notification of order” to the affected company or companies.

A notification of order is neither a policy instrument nor a warning of sanctions, but a stage in our consideration of the matter where we request the player to assess the factual basis. The notification is merely the first step before an administrative decision is made.

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

Contact informationInger
Anda, press spokesperson

E-mail: inger.anda@ptil.no | Telephone: +47 970 54 064

Øyvind Midttun, deputy press contact
Email Oyvind.Midttun@ptil.no | Telephone +47 51 87 66 48