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Investigation of incident on Kvitebjørn completed

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) has completed its investigation of a serious incident involving a falling object on the Statoil-operated Kvitebjørn field in July 2006. The investigation uncovered several nonconformities in relation to regulatory requirements.

On 4 July, a 13.6 meter long drill pipe weighing 921 kg fell 26 meters from the claw of the pipe handling crane down onto a gangway. The incident occurred on Kvitebjørn, operated by Statoil, and located east of the Gullfaks field in the North Sea.

There were no personal injuries or major material damage; however, if the pipe had struck personnel the outcome could have been fatal. For this reason, the PSA decided to investigate the incident. We have also provided technical assistance to the police in their investigation. The investigation also included the manufacturer of the crane.

Several weaknesses and breaches of regulatory requirements
The PSA's investigation has uncovered a number of weaknesses or breaches of regulatory requirements or recommended norms.

The nonconformities are related to failures on the part of the crane's manufacturer, National Oilwell Varco, and on the part of the drilling contractor, KCA Deutag. At the same time, the report points out that Statoil has a potential for improvement as regards how it exercises its supervisory obligation as operator.

As regards the operational aspect, the report concludes that the pipe supports were not activated, and that the communication between the crane driver and roughneck was unclear.

Technical weaknesses revealed in the investigation include lack of built-in safety functions on the crane, as well as unidentified hazards associated with use of the crane. The operating instructions were very deficient in their description of hazards and important safety functions, and the breaker indication (marking/position/release) for activation of the pipe supports was also deficient.

As regards the organizational aspect, a number of unacceptable aspects were revealed. For example, the crane driver was assigned this task without formal and adequate qualifications, and there were significant deficiencies as regards the operating instructions that had not been identified and corrected.

All of the involved parties have been asked to provide an account of how they will handle the identified nonconformities.

Contact in the PSA:
Inger Anda, press spokesperson
E-mail: inger.anda@ptil.no
Telephone: +47 970 54 064