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Audit of Eirik Raude - drilling, safety, lifting operations

During the period 12-14 July 2004, the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) conducted an audit on board the drilling rig Eirik Raude. The activity targeted management systems and technical aspects in the areas of drilling systems, safety systems and crane and lifting operations. The PSA has concluded that Ocean Rig's measurements of compliance with the HSE regulations for these systems on the Eirik Raude are deficient in certain areas.

Background for the audit

The Eirik Raude is a semi-submersible mobile drilling rig that was outfitted at Friede Goldman Offshore in Pascagoula MS, USA. The rig's first operations were in Canada in November 2002. The rig has not previously operated on the Norwegian shelf.

Ocean Rig A/S applied for an Acknowledgement of Compliance (AoC) for the rig on 14 June 2004. The company has a contract with Statoil and Norsk Hydro for drilling on the Norwegian shelf with start-up of activities planned in October 2004.

The PSA must issue an AoC before consent can be granted for the rig to operate on the Norwegian shelf.

Such an acknowledgement covers the applicant's management systems and technical aspects on the rig, and constitutes a statement concerning the suitability of the rig for use in the petroleum activities on the Norwegian shelf in relation to the applicable regulatory requirements.

The technical requirements in the Facilities Regulations are used as a basis for the measurements of compliance in the AoC application submitted by Ocean Rig.

This entails application of Norsok standards and the DnV's OS standards as regards the technical disciplines covered by this activity.

The application assumes a lower temperature limit of -20 C for equipment and systems on the rig.

Purpose of the audit

The objective of this activity was to verify that management and technical aspects in the areas of drilling systems, safety systems and crane and lifting operations complied with regulatory requirements.

The verification was carried out on the basis of the descriptions in the AoC application, clarification meetings with the company, and audits on board the rig.

Result of the audit

It is the PSA's conclusion that Ocean Rig's measurements of compliance with the HSE regulations as regards the relevant systems on the Eirik Raude are deficient in some areas.

New non-conformances with the regulations were uncovered during the activity that were not identified in the AoC application.

The non-conformances vary from direct deviations from the HSE regulations to non-conformances because the rig does not meet the level of safety described in the standards referred to in the guidelines to the regulations.

There were also observations relating to conditions where there was a potential for improvement.

These non-conformances must, to a significant degree, be rectified before and upon arrival in Norway, where the rig will spend a brief time at a shipyard.

A high level of technical capability, as well as professional attitudes on the part of the personnel involved have contributed to the positive impressions of the verification activity.

The PSA would also like to highlight the positive fact that several of the planned and implemented upgrades will contribute to increasing the rig's HSE standard.

To prepare the rig for operations in cold climatic conditions on the Norwegian shelf, a program is underway to evaluate and upgrade the rig as regards winterization. It is important that all relevant measures be specified as soon as possible in this regard.

The verification revealed 16 new non-conformances and nine items with a potential for improvement.

Contact person in the PSA:
Mike Theiss