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Audit of DP operations at Balder and Jotun

During the period 15-18 April 2007, the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) conducted a verification activity on the tanker M/T Stena Natalita. The activity was part of an audit of ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Norway AS (ExxonMobil) related to dynamic positioning (DP) in connection with loading at the Balder and Jotun fields. No regulatory nonconformities were identified during this audit.


The audit also included two land meetings held with ExxonMobil on 29 November and 5 December 2006. The audit was aimed at factors directly related to DP operations, and it was conducted by means of document reviews, conversations and verifications on board the vessel.

Background for the audit

The M/T Stena Natalita is a buoy-loader operated by Teekay Shipping on contract for ExxonMobil. The vessel primarily lifts oil from the Balder and Jotun fields. The Stena Natalita has DP equipment manufactured by Kongsberg.

Over a period of time, the PSA has chosen to focus on various categories of DP operations, as these operations entail a significant major accident potential. The audit of the Stena Natalita is our first on a buoy-loader in operation.

Purpose of the audit

The purpose of the audit was to check that ExxonMobil ensured safe DP operations at Balder and Jotun. The activity on board was measured against ExxonMobil's guidelines for DP operations in order to verify that the company met relevant requirements in the petroleum regulations.

Result of the audit

No nonconformities in relation to regulatory requirements were uncovered during the audit, although we did find three improvement items. The continuous operation of the vessel includes varied and frequent use of the DP system, and the operators appeared to be competent.

The improvement items are related to documentation for DP operations, particularly items relating to criteria for interruption. Nor was there an established strategy for emergency preparedness as regards hazard and accident situations related to DP incidents.

The company also has potential for improvement as regards documenting adequate rotation among the DP personnel so as to ensure that operational competence is maintained and developed.

Contact person in the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway:
Mike Theiss