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RNNP 2008: Expects visible results from HSE projects

The risk level in the petroleum industry remains stable according to the Risk level reports for 2008 (RNNP). "The PSA expects visible HSE results from the many on-going improvement projects in the industry," says director Magne Ognedal.

Over the last five years, the petroleum industry has set in motion a comprehensive effort and a broad range of projects to reduce the risk level on the Norwegian shelf and at the land facilities. (Read more about some of the many projects in the last paragraph).

OLF's Gas leak project achieved the target set for 2008 – no more than ten gas leaks larger than 0.1 kg/second – in 2007. In 2008, 12 such leaks were recorded, two more than in 2007. However, the RNNP measurements show that the level is still significantly lower than the average during the period 2001-2007.

Must keep up the good work
– This development shows that the industry can achieve good results trough goal-oriented, continuous work, but not least; this shows that the effort must be maintained in the long term, you cannot take your eyes off the ball, the focus must be relentless even if the development is positive," emphasises PSA director Magne Ognedal.

Particularly two of last year's leaks had the potential to develop into major accidents: The oil leak in the utility shaft on Statfjord A in May, which resulted in explosion hazard and major accident risk, and the gas leak on Oseberg C in September (estimated at 26 kg/second). The latter was the second largest leak in process areas in recent times - second only to the Visund gas leak in 2006.

Joint effort
- There is every reason to praise the industry for having taken on this comprehensive reporting and improvement work, which the parties in the industry, on the basis of the Safety Forum, have agreed are necessary measures," emphasises Ognedal.

- However, this effort must show results in the RNNP measurements, both over the short and long term," Ognedal maintains. "In that respect, some of the projects are already bearing fruit, such as the gas leak project," states Ognedal.

"Other measures will need more time before generating visible results, while the the risk level surveys illuminate other risk areas in need of effort and attention," says Magne Ognedal.

Alarming number of noise-related injuries
The number of reported noise-related injuries remains alarmingly high - 623 in 2008, compared with 595 in 2007. The noise exposure indicator shows no improvement in 2008.

- This means that major employee groups are exposed to noise and thus are at risk of developing hearing injuries," Ognedal points out. He emphasises that the authorities' experiences indicate a major need for noise-reducing measures in the industry.

Serious personal injuries
There were no fatal accidents on the Norwegian shelf in 2008. The most recent fatal accident on the shelf took place on board the lifting vessel Saipem 7000 in August 2007.

Last year, 405 personal injuries were recorded on the facilities, compared with 437 in 2007 – of which 34 serious personal injuries, compared with 36 in 2007.

Like the major accident indicators, serious personal injuries have shown a positive development in recent years. In 2008, there were 0.86 serious personal injuries per million working hours. This is significantly lower than the average for the preceding ten-year period.

The risk level on land:
As of 2006, the land facilities were included in the measurement of the risk level in the Norwegian petroleum activities. However, three years of data collection do not provide a solid enough foundation to assess any trends.

Only following several years of measurements will the basis be sufficiently robust to prepare any trend assessments. Data recorded for 2008:

Hazard and accident situations on land
There were 92 reported incidents in 2008 related to so-called defined hazard and accident situations (DFU) for eight of the facilities in operation. For purposes of comparison, there were 65 reported incidents in 2007.

This increase is mainly due to increased reporting and not a real increase in the number of incidents.

Gas leaks on land
On average, the number of non-ignited hydrocarbon leaks is 1.5 per facility, and seven out of eight facilities have reported this type of incident. Adjusted for working hours, the values vary from 0 to 7 per million working hours.

The size and nature of the facilities vary, and this may be the cause for the relatively large fluctuations in the number of incidents per facility. The scope of construction and modification activities may also have an effect.

Personal injuries on land
The serious personal injury frequency in 2008 (0.87 injuries per million working hours) was somewhat higher than the frequency in 2007 (0.64 injuries per million working hours).

The serious personal injury frequency varies greatly between the facilities - from 0 to 1.96 injuries per million working hours. There were no fatal accidents on the land facilities in 2008. The most recent fatal accident took place at Nyhamna in 2005.

Ongoing HSE projects in the industry:

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway has every confidence that the comprehensive ongoing work in the industry, based on the Safety forum, will generate HSE results. Here are some examples of the measures:

  • Chemical working environment in the oil and gas industry, with the goal that all such work should be performed in a manner in which potential risks are handled prudently in accordance with the provisions of the Chemical Regulations.
  • Groups exposed to risk with the purpose of developing a comprehensive understanding of risk for work-related injury and illness for various groups in the petroleum activities. This includes Lift for catering, with the purpose of developing consensus-based recommendations to contribute to a better working environment for catering employees.
  • The lifeboat project, with the overall goal of making the lifeboats on the Norwegian shelf compliant with Section 43 of the Facilities Regulations: ” it must be possible to evacuate personnel on facilities quickly and efficiently to a safe area in all weather conditions.”
  • Emergency preparedness offshore, with the purpose of clarifying clear strengths and weaknesses in the offshore emergency preparedness, and gauging the effect of implemented improvements over the course of the last ten years.
  • The well integrity project, with the purpose of categorising the conditions in active wells on the Norwegian shelf. This project was initiated following the discovery in 2006that 18 per cent of selected wells had integrity problems. The status in 2008 shows that 24 per cent of the active wells on the Norwegian shelf have some form of integrity problems.
  • The gas leak project (OLF), with the purpose of providing leadership, co-ordination and focus for an industrial effort to reduce hydrocarbon leaks larger than 0.1 kg/second permanently by 50 per cent to less than 20 leaks a year before the end of 2005. This target was achieved. A new target was established in 2006 of no more than ten such leaks over the course of 2008.
  • Aging facilities, with the purpose of ensuring that the industry has prepared good standards and guidelines for design life extension. Working for similar handling of design life extension across national boundaries.
  • Anchor failure and loss of position, with the purpose of promoting safe anchoring and positioning in the form of best practice and development of new guidelines/standards
  • Falling objects, with the purpose of achieving best practice to prevent falling objects in all phases, from design to disposal of equipment.

RNNP was initiated in 1999/2000 to develop and utilise a survey tool which illustrates the development in the risk level on the Norwegian shelf. The work plays an important role in the industry in its contribution to a unified understanding of the development in the risk level among the parties.

The RNNP work monitors the risk level development using various methods such as incident indicators, barrier data, interviews with key informants, work seminars, field work and a major questionnaire survey every two years.

The results are presented in annual reports., which also provide a basis for implementing measures to prevent a negative development. Several of the ongoing improvement projects in the industry are examples of this.