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Audit of area emergency preparedness on Haltenbanken - Heidrun

During the period 26-29 August 2003 the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) conducted an audit of Statoil ASA concerning the area emergency preparedness on Halten/Nordland, including the installation Heidrun (photo). The activity was part of a series of audits of several players in the area.

Background for the audit

The background for the audit is that Statoil was granted consent for a change in the Consent for Use that had been granted for the Heidrun installation on 5 March 2002. The change involved the introduction of area emergency preparedness on Haltenbanken.

The consent was granted for a trial period of two years on the following conditions:

  • A verification program for the relevant installation must be implemented during the trial period in order to confirm that the requirements in the area preparedness plan, as well as the installation's specific requirements for emergency preparedness, are complied with.

  • The company's assessment of the trial period results must be submitted to the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate before the end of the period.

  • The authorities, represented by the NPD and the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority, will be conducting audits during the trial period.

In addition, the NPD makes it a precondition that each installation makes sure their level of emergency preparedness satisfies the regulatory requirements at all times.

Purpose of the audit

The purpose of the audit was to see how Statoil ensures that the emergency preparedness plans and measures implemented in the company, comply with the current regulatory requirements, with particular focus on Sections 29 and 30 of the Framework Regulations concerning coordination of and cooperation on emergency preparedness, Section 15 of the Framework Regulations concerning verification and Section 38 concerning monitoring of safety zones, Section 11 of the Management Regulations concerning manning and competence, Section 64 of the Activities Regulations concerning establishing emergency preparedness and Section 68 concerning handling of situations of hazard and accident, Section 40 of the Facilities Regulations concerning equipment for rescue of personnel and Section 43 concerning means of evacuation, and Section 11 of the Information Duty Regulations concerning alert and notification to the supervisory authorities of situations of hazard and accident.

Important elements that were reviewed during the audit were the establishment of area emergency preparedness, which includes a new SAR helicopter and a new standby vessel, follow-up and further development of management systems for emergency preparedness, emergency preparedness plans and the system for maintenance of evacuation and rescue equipment, emergency preparedness drills, response personnel's expertise and requirements for the emergency preparedness organization.

Result of the audit

The audit uncovered no serious problems that could lead to a notification of order. The main impression is nevertheless that there is room for improvement in some matters related to emergency preparedness on board.

The audit looked mainly at issues related to the area resources, but other emergency preparedness issues on Heidrun were also touched on. This means that not all of the observations made can be linked directly to the area emergency preparedness on Haltenbanken.

The NPD has the impression that joint training and drills involving the area resources have been deficient. This particularly applies to use of the new standby vessel during drills and includes both Åsgard A and Heidrun, plus the two other installations covered by this audit, Njord and Draugen.

The threshold for use of the joint standby vessel seems higher than before, and the procedures for employing the standby vessel do not seem to have been communicated well enough.

The MOB boat crew most often train alone without management on board the installation being involved, and without joint training with the first aid team.

It also transpired during the audit that there is a general lack of knowledge of the verification plan for area emergency preparedness, and the main focus in this plan.

In addition, it is also somewhat unclear which level in Statoil follows up this plan, the operating organization in Stjørdal or those responsible for air and sea operations in Statoil, Sandsli.

The NPD would also point out that the document structure seems to be somewhat unclearly framed in that there is no clear distinction between the documents that are specific for areas, installation and operator.

It also transpired during the audit that no system has been established for continuous transfer of experience between the installations that are part of the area emergency preparedness on Haltenbanken, neither on land nor offshore, beyond the Management Committee that has been established, and that no audit has been planned for or conducted of the contracted resources to comply with the supervision duty (Sections 13 and 14 of the Framework Regulations).

The dispersant equipment has not been used during drills with the SAR helicopter, and the helicopter crew has therefore not trained sufficiently in the use of this equipment.

The NPD gained a very positive impression of the helicopter crew from Norsk Helikopter who operate the SAR helicopter, permanently stationed on Heidrun. They have excellent motivation for and commitment to assignments.

The NPD also had the opportunity to take part in a training trip involving the Stril Poseidon, where the main focus was on deploying and hoisting up rescue personnel using the helicopter's rescue hoist.

The planned visit on board the standby vessel Stril Poseidon had to be cancelled due to poor weather conditions which would not permit the helicopter to land on board the vessel.

Contact person in the PSA:
Mike Theiss