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Gullfaks C order fulfilled

Following the serious well incident on Gullfaks C in May 2010, the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) outlined an extensive order for Statoil. After close follow-up of work and measures, the PSA believes Statoil has implemented appropriate improvement measures following the incident, and now considers the order to be fulfilled.

The Gullfaks C incident, and the measures following it, have been on the agenda in both Statoil and the PSA for significant parts of 2011 and 2012. The PSA has conducted close follow-up of the work Statoil initiated as a result of the incident, and the measures related to the order.

“We recognise that Statoil has done a lot of important work and implemented extensive measures that we consider appropriate following the Gullfaks C incident,” says Hanne Etterlid, the PSA’s supervision coordinator for Statoil’s offshore activities.

The PSA therefore considers the order dated 6 December 2010 to be fulfilled.

The Gullfaks C incident
On 19 May 2010, a serious situation occurred in the C06A well on Gullfaks C in the North Sea. Statoil struggled for more than two months to regain control of the well.

The PSA’s conclusion following the incident was that the planning of the drilling and completion operation in well C06A was executed with serious and extensive inadequacies.

These were related to key factors such as risk management and change control, experience transfer and use of expertise, familiarity with and compliance with governing documents and documenting decisions.

Under insignificantly changed circumstances, the situation could have resulted in a major accident on the Norwegian shelf. The PSA and others also pointed out similarities between the Gullfaks C incident and the dramatic incident on Snorre A in 2004, when small margins prevented the near-miss from developing into a major accident.

Extensive order
Following the incident on Gullfaks C, the PSA issued an extensive order to Statoil.

The company was ordered to review and assess compliance with work processes in the well production process on Gullfaks, and carry out an independent assessment of why implemented measures following previous incidents have not had the desired effect on Gullfaks.

Based on the results of these assessments, Statoil was also ordered to implement measures in the rest of the company, and to prepare a binding implementation and follow-up plan.

Statoil established an extensive and multipartite improvement project with clear roots in the company’s management.
This project has defined a number of improvement measures related to e.g. changes to the drilling activity work process, risk management and change control.

As part of the work on assessing the need for measures across the company, Statoil tasked the International Institute of Research Stavanger (IRIS) with conducting an independent analysis of why previous measures did not have the desired effect.

Statoil simultaneously conducted its own investigation in parallel with IRIS’ work.

Based on the overall work, Statoil has adopted a company-wide improvement plan which comprises improving and simplifying the management system, ensuring conformity between responsibility and authority, creating an open learning culture and ensuring systematic follow-up of suppliers.

Statoil’s work on designing and implementing appropriate improvement measures at multiple levels was presented to the PSA through multiple meetings. We have emphasised topics, anchoring, involvement, results and not least the company’s responsibility for ensuring sound implementation of the adopted plans.

“How Statoil’s management ensures the measures actually contribute to improvement both across the company and locally on each facility has been key in our dialogue with the company,” says Hanne Etterlid.

“We assume that the company sees the measures in context, both with each other, and with other ongoing improvement initiatives, and trust the work will be emphasised in a long-term perspective.”

“Based on the measures already implemented, and based on the binding plans submitted by the company, we know consider the order fulfilled,” she says.