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Audit of StatoilHydro – group emergency preparedness drill Njord A

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) has conducted an audit of emergency preparedness in StatoilHydro. The audit was related to a group emergency preparedness exercise with Njord A as the object of the drill. Several potential improvements were identified during the audit.

Njord A

On Thursday, 3 September 2009, the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) conducted an audit of StatoilHydro's group emergency preparedness exercise with Njord A as the object of the drill.

The audit was aimed at the emergency preparedness discipline, and primarily that part of the emergency exercise which took place at StatoilHydro at Sandsli, also designated the second line in the operating company's emergency preparedness organisation.

The purpose was to verify whether the emergency preparedness level met with the regulatory requirements and the requirements of StatoilHydro's own governing documents.

Emphasis was placed on emergency preparedness management, establishment, management and organisation of the emergency response in the second line through observation of how the operating company implemented the emergency preparedness exercise from when the alarm was sounded and notification implemented up to the normalisation phase.

Another objective was to observe technical aspects of the exercise and how the specific emergency exercise situation was handled in general.

The audit activity was carried out through the audit team being present and observing and holding conversations with the emergency response personnel during all phases of the exercise at StatoilHydro's emergency preparedness centre at Sandsli.

In addition, the PSA participated with its own emergency preparedness organisation from its offices at Ullandhaug, Stavanger. Some of the items in this report are based on feedback from the PSA's own emergency preparedness organisation.

The audit was based on Chapter VI-II of the Activities Regulations relating to competence and Chapter XI relating to emergency preparedness. The audit activity was also based on the supervisory activity in the PSA's paramount priority of contributing to technical and operational robustness, as well as follow-up of the company's expertise and capacity in relation to new organisational models.

The objective of the audit activity was to verify that StatoilHydro safeguarded emergency preparedness aspects during the implementation of a large, extensive emergency preparedness exercise in accordance with regulatory requirements and its own governing documents.

The audit activity did not result in any findings that would lead to a notification of order, or that can be characterised as nonconformities, however, several items were observed where we believe there is room for improvement.

Improvement items

  • Deficient technical aspects in the exercise: In the opinion of the audit team, several technical aspects in relation to the emergency response centre (second line) served to diminish the quality and realism of the exercise.
  • Deficient professional competence in the scenario team on Njord A: During large parts of the exercise, the scenario team on Njord A was not staffed with sufficient professional competence in relation to the content of the exercise.
  • Unclear handling of evacuation philosophy: The staffing on Njord A was not significantly reduced, but remained at about 127 people on board during the entire exercise, after 39 people were evacuated as part of the scenario.
    It was difficult to determine the reason for maintaining such a high level of staffing, in spite of the fact that the facility was exposed to an HC/gas release in the near vicinity.

Although the report points out a number of improvement items, it is the opinion of the PSA that the emergency exercise provided many good and useful lessons for the involved parties.