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Audit of well control on Veslefrikk

During the period 2-12 November, the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) conducted an audit of well control, maintenance and complete workover of well control equipment on Veslefrikk.

The audit was conducted with Statoil, Smedvig Drilling, Smedvig Brønntjenester and Varco Norge AS on land from 2-5 November 2004 and with Statoil, Smedvig Drilling and Smedvig Brønntjenester offshore on Veslefrikk from 9-12 November 2004.


The Veslefrikk field is located in the northern North Sea about 40 km west of Troll.

The field was proven in 1981, and has been developed with a normally unmanned wellhead installation (Veslefrikk A) and a semi-submersible installation with process facilities and living quarters (Veslefrikk B).

The Veslefrikk oil is transported via Oseberg to the Sture terminal in Øygarden municipality. The gas is transported through Statpipe.

Veslefrikk. Foto: Statoil

Background for the audit

After conducting audits of mobile drilling rigs and shipping companies in 2000 and 2003 respectively, we planned audits of selected fixed drilling installations in 2004 to verify similarities, or dissimilarities, if applicable, related to well control and well control systems between fixed and mobile installations, as well as between drilling and well interventions.

In addition, the result of the audit shall also be incorporated as part of the ongoing "BOP and associated well control systems" project being implemented by the PSA.

The audit included a review of selected parts of the companies' systems and procedures in connection with drilling and well activities to verify the safeguarding of regulatory requirements and internal company requirements linked to

- competence and training related to well control,
- implementation of well control drills,
- testing of well control equipment,
- maintenance and complete workover of well control equipment,
- interfaces between the operator and drilling/well contractor,
- handling of non-conformances.

Purpose of the audit

The objective of the audit is to verify that applicable regulations and company procedures are safeguarded in connection with maintenance and complete workover of well control equipment, and in connection with well control training for drilling and well activities.

Result of the audit

The audit has confirmed that there are varying practices in the industry for how complete workover of well control equipment is planned, implemented and followed up, depending on whether the activity relates to well control equipment for wireline, for drilling from fixed installations or drilling from mobile installations.

This audit has revealed non-conformances with regulatory requirements related to lack of non-conformance procedures in Smedvig and Statoil related to different interpretations of technical solutions and documentation of the interpretation basis in relation to recommendations from the workover supplier, Varco, as well as lack of use of independent verification in connection with complete workover of drilling-BOP in the summer of 2004.

We have also identified certain items where there is room for improvement. This relates in part to

- Lack of access to technical requirements/specifications in connection with the Certificate of Compliance (CoC) between Statoil, Smedvig and Varco,
- lack of involvement and follow-up in connection with complete workover of well control equipment from Statoil,
- number of position categories with a need for basic well control competence (IWCF) within wireline on the part of Smedvig,
- review of requirements and needs in well control competence on the part of Statoil and Smedvig,
- offshore well control drills for drilling,
- maintenance systems for drilling and wireline equipment in Smedvig,
- need for information about and correction of well control panel for drilling.

A positive note is that Smedvig has now implemented criticality assessments of drilling and well equipment, and these have been implemented in the maintenance system for drilling equipment.

We have noted that, within the area of well services, Smedvig is working to introduce a computer-based maintenance system for wireline equipment in the near future.

Our impression from the audit is that when this is completed, Smedvig will be able to fulfill the requirements in Sections 42-46 of the Activities Regulations in a more effective manner, also for the wireline equipment.

It is also positive that Statoil Veslefrikk and Gullfaks have initiated a "downhole course" to improve understanding of subsurface and rock mechanics problems for relevant categories of positions both within the company and for the company's drilling and well contractors.


Contact person in the Petroleum Safety Authority:
Mike Theiss