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Audit - lifting operations on Balder and Ringhorne

During the period 25 November - 3 December 2004, the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) conducted an audit activity aimed at ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Norway AS' (ExxonMobil's) management of lifting operations and technical aspects associated with lifting appliances and lifting gear. Based on poor functionality of the cranes on Balder, the PSA has issued a notification of order to ExxonMobil.

Our notification of order applies to factors including implementation of an analysis of the offshore cranes on Balder, measurement of the results of the analyses against the regulatory requirements, as well as implementation of measures in accordance with the results of this measurement.

The audit started with an opening meeting in ExxonMobil's offices at Forus, where the company presented topics including organization of operations and maintenance, competence requirements, and the status of lifting appliances and lifting gear.

Balder facility

From 29 November - 3 December 2004, a verification activity was performed on board the Balder (photo) and Ringhorne production facilities.

Background for the audit

Use of lifting appliances and lifting gear represents a relatively great risk of injury to personnel and damage to equipment. The background for the audit is the PSA's general focus on the players' follow-up of technical and operational factors associated with the use of lifting appliances and lifting gear.

Purpose of the audit

The objective of the audit was to contribute towards raising the operating companies' awareness in connection with the use of lifting appliances, as well as to verify conformance with regulations and internal company requirements for management of lifting operations, compliance with technical requirements and competence requirements.

Result of the audit

Generally speaking, ExxonMobil maintains good order and management as regards the use of lifting appliances and lifting gear.

The PSA also takes a positive view of the fact that the company has established dedicated positions for a crane mechanic and two "safety officers" to follow-up technical and operational aspects associated with the use of lifting appliances.

In the opening meeting, the company presented plans for further upgrades and new installation of lifting appliances in order to improve material handling.

In the opinion of the PSA, the functionality of the cranes on Balder represents a challenge for the company.

This applies particularly to the starboard crane (Crane 2), which is most often used in connection with loading/unloading to supply ships.
As early as in an audit conducted in 2000, we commented on the unfortunate qualities of this crane, such as the location of emergency lowering valves and bothersome vibrations.

In addition, the risk of and potential hazards associated with power interruptions for the cranes were commented on. The 2000 audit identified three incidents during which power was interrupted.

There have been several incidents since that time, including incidents in which loads have been left hanging. In spite of many measures being implemented, there is no noticeable improvement in the condition of the crane.

On this basis, the PSA has issued a notification of order to ExxonMobil.

Press spokesperson in the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway:
Inger Anda
Telephone: 970 54 064