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Audit of DONG - emergency preparedness exercise

On 21 September 2007, the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) conducted an audit of the operating company Dong E&P Norge AS (DONG). The audit targeted implementation of the operator's planned emergency preparedness exercise.

The audit was carried out by means of observation in the operator's emergency response center and in the PSA's own emergency response center, where members of the audit team participated.

DONG carried out the exercise as a part of the preparations for exploration drilling on production license 274, block 1/3. The drilling facility is the Mærsk Guardian.

Background for the audit
Pursuant to the award letter from the Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion (AID), the PSA is to set the standards for and follow up to ensure that the players in the petroleum activities maintain high standards in health, safety, environment and emergency preparedness, and thereby contribute towards creating the greatest possible values for the society at large.

The PSA shall also contribute towards reducing the risk level in the petroleum activities by following up to ensure that the players facilitate technical and operational integrity, as well as the interaction between human beings, technology and organization in HSE-critical systems.

Another performance objective for the PSA is to follow up to make sure that the players safeguard their responsibility in the management of the activities. Emergency preparedness comprises central parts of the technical, operational and organizational barrier elements, and proper safeguarding of these is important to maintain an acceptable risk level.

Purpose of the audit
The PSA wanted to verify that DONG can handle a hazard and accident situation in accordance with applicable regulatory requirements, including having its own emergency preparedness plans and its own performance requirements. The exercise was a scenario involving a well incident that developed into an "oil-on-sea" scenario.

Result of the audit
DONG did not fulfill the requirements for notification in a satisfactory manner and did not provide adequate information about the development of the scenario during the exercise. This related particularly to the use of means of communication. Also, Dong did not fulfil the requirements for providing information to the authorities during the exercise.

A realistic well incident scenario had been prepared that led the emergency response organization through the five emergency preparedness phases in a systematic manner. Particular emphasis was placed on notification, and the scenario ended in an "oil-on-sea" scenario. The organization will practice more on handling the "oil-on-sea" scenario closer to the start-up of the exploration drilling activity.

Contact person in the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway:
Mike Theiss