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RNNP 2007: Good development, but several serious incidents

The number of incidents on the Norwegian Shelf with a major accident potential show a decline in 2007. PSA director Magne Ognedal ascertains a good development, but points out that several serious incidents, such as the fatal accident on the lifting facility Saipem 7000 and the oil leak on the Statfjord field, show that the industry still has challenges to resolve if it is to be the world leader in HSE.

The activities under the direction of RNNP (Risk Level in the Petroleum Industry) aims at measuring and improving the HSE condition in the offshore petroleum industry and onshore petroleum facilities.

Risk level on the Shelf:
Since 2002 there has been a marked reduction in the number of hydrocarbon leaks with a leak rate of more than 0.1 kilo per second. With 10 leaks in this category in 2007, OLF reached the goal set for 2008 one year early. Last year’s 10 leaks constitute a clear reduction from 2006 (15 leaks of more than 0.1 kg/s), and is statistically lower than the average for the period 2001-2006. This is shown in the Risk Level Report made public at a press conference today.

Goal-oriented work important
”This is a positive development and shows that work toward specific goals provides good results,” say PSA director Magne Ognedal. ”The challenge now is to maintain the spotlight on continued reduction and improvement, also in other areas,” he adds.

The number of incidents related to drilling and wells in connection with production and exploration drilling and ships on a collision course also show an improvement. Most of the well incidents are in the regular category, i.e. incidents with a minor potential. Monitoring of ship traffic on the Shelf is constantly improving. The indicator for ships on a collision course shows a slight but steady decline since 2002, and the change in 2007 is statistically significant.

Fires that are not linked to hydrocarbon leaks are among the major accident indicators that show a stabile level. Three such fires were reported last year, compared with two in 2006.

HSE climate and working environment
All in all there has been a significant improvement of the HSE climate from 2005 to 2008.
The perception of emergency preparedness is an example of matters that are better than in previous years. Nevertheless, more people (48 per cent of those queried) perceive maintenance of importance for safety as being deficient, compared with 45 per cent of those queried in 2005.

Responses to the questionnaire also show an improvement in matters concerning the psychosocial working environment, such as the possibility to influence how one’s own work is to be done, the perception of support from supervisors and colleagues, and that the working environment is supportive. On the other hand, more persons experience noise than in the last survey, while a minor proportion report skin contact with chemicals and hazardous substances.

Serious increase in the number of hearing impairments
This year a number of exposed employee groups were registered as still being exposed to a noise level that is too high and can lead to chronic hearing impairments.

Total reduction
The total indicator that reflects the major accident risk shows a statistically significant reduction in the past three years, compared with the average for the period 2000-2006. This applies to both production and mobile facilities. In the Risk Level Report for 2007 it also emerges that the frequency of serious personal injuries has seen a positive development, with a reduction on both production and mobile facilities.

Risk level on land:
As of 2006 the land facilities became part of the measuring of the risk level in the Norwegian petroleum industry. Two years’ acquisition of data do not, however, constitute a solid enough basis on which to assess the level of the indicators. The basis will not be sufficient for robust trend assessments until after several years of measuring. The following data has been registered from last year:

Hazard and accident situations on land
In 2007, 65 incidents were reported related to defined hazard and accident situations (DFU) for eight of the facilities in operation. In comparison, 25 incidents were reported in 2006 for four facilities in operation.

Last year’s incidents are: 12 non-ignited hydrocarbon leaks, three ignited hydrocarbon leaks, two fires (not hydrocarbons), 42 falling objects and six hazardous releases from support systems.

Gas leaks on land
On average the number of non-ignited hydrocarbon leaks represented 1.5 per facility, and three of eight facilities reported this type of incident. Normalised against working hours, the values vary from 0 to 5.8 per million working hours. The size and nature of the facilities vary, and may be the reason for the relatively wide difference in the number of incidents per facility. The extent of construction activities and modifications may also have an impact.

All ignited hydrocarbons and fires (three and two respectively) are minor incidents with a limited risk potential: ignited leaks had a limited volume and hydrocarbon-related fires were of a limited extent.

Personal injuries on land
The injury frequency in 2007 (0.6 injuries per million working hours) is approximately equal to the frequency in 2006.
The frequency of serious personal injuries varies a great deal among the facilities – from 0 to 2.7 injuries per million working hours. There were no fatalities on the land facilities in 2007. The last fatality was at Nyhamna in 2005.

HSE climate and working environment on land
The questionnaire is based on a similar survey conducted on the offshore facilities, but adapted to the land facilities. The main features show that language problems, lack of maintenance and variations in controlling documentation between the facilities are matters that are considered to lead to reduced safety. On the other hand, most people consider their own HSE conduct as positive. Hazardous situations can be reported without personal consequences, and most people feel it is all right to discuss HSE with their immediate superior.

Assessments of the psychosocial working environment show that a majority reports a large degree of social support at work. The most common physical ailments are neck/shoulder/arm pains. Work in cold areas and areas exposed to weather is the physical strain most people are exposed to.