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Audit of lifting appliances and lifting operations on Ekofisk

During the period 17-21 November 2003, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) carried out an audit activity aimed at ConocoPhillips Norge. The topic of the audit activity was lifting appliances and lifting operations on the Ekofisk field. The audit was conducted at the Ekofisk Center and on Ekofisk K and B.

The audit activity was conducted as a verification of the technical condition and status of maintenance for lifting appliances, lifting gear and proper execution of lifting operations.

Background for the audit

Both operator-specific and general factors in the industry form the basis for implementing the audit activity.

The operator-specific factors are associated with modifications and replacements of the Seatrax Monarch cranes.

In addition, ConocoPhillips will also be replacing a number of the old offshore cranes on their installations.

For the industry in general, there has been an unacceptable number of accidents and serious incidents involving lifting operations.

Analyses have shown that technical condition and maintenance factors are contributing causes of approx. 30% of the incidents.

Moreover, lifting operations are mentioned in both the award letter from the Ministry for 2003 and in Storting White Paper No. 7 on health, safety and environment in the petroleum activities. Among other things, the Ministry's award letter states that the NPD shall "Follow up to ensure that the players facilitate and maintain technical integrity on all installations".

Storting White Paper No. 7 on health, environment and safety in the petroleum activities states the following: "As part of the work to improve the safety of crane and lifting operations on the Shelf, the Ministry has also asked the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate to prioritize supervision in these areas, and in part through a dialogue with the industry in the established "Safety Forum", identify concrete measures that can contribute to promoting safety."

Purpose of the audit

The objective of the audit has been to verify that the operator has followed up its own plans for improving safety when conducting lifting operations, as well as to verify that the NPD's orders and recommendations from previous audits have been complied with and followed up.

The number of serious incidents related to lifting operations shall be reduced by:

  • ensuring the proper technical condition of lifting appliances and lifting gear,
  • following up to ensure that regular inspections are conducted and measures implemented and followed up,
  • ensuring that all lifting operations are conducted in accordance with regulatory requirements (the Activities Regulations),
  • contributing to improvement of the safety level when using the Seatrax Monarch cranes on Ekofisk (and Eldfisk) through implementing short-term and long-term measures.

Result of the audit

After carrying out the audit activity, our main impression is that ConocoPhillips has invested considerable efforts in increasing the safety associated with lifting operations.

In important areas, this work has contributed to a clear improvement in both control and follow-up of lifting appliances and lifting operations.

Through this audit activity, we have verified that ConocoPhillips has implemented and follows up measures described in the plan for complying with orders relating to the Seatrax Monarch cranes.

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway will continue the system of status meetings to help ensure that both long-term and short-term measures are followed up, but the meeting frequency will be reduced.

In the implementation of the audit activity, we have also verified that ConocoPhillips has established a system for maintenance, including implementing and following up regular inspections of lifting appliances and lifting gear, which largely correspond to the requirements for such systems.

We have also verified that ConocoPhillips has established a system for inspection and approval of temporary lifting appliances (rigging).

However, we did observe that ConocoPhillips has a potential for improvement in some areas. These areas are largely linked to discipline as regards compliance with the company's own requirements.

The PSA's follow-up

Contact person in the PSA:
Mike Theiss