On 7 July the PSA was presented with the results of Statoil's investigation subsequent to an incident wherein a free-fall lifeboat was damaged during a planned drop test on Veslefrikk B on 21 June. Statoil's report reveals that the cover of the lifeboat has manufacture and/or design weaknesses. The three lifeboats of this type on Veslefrikk B were immediately taken out of service and production was shut down.
The PSA's follow-up
Lifeboats are one of the most important means of evacuation on installations on the Norwegian shelf. Therefore, the PSA takes a very serious view of the incident on Veslefrikk B. Statoil started its own investigation immediately after the incident on 21 June. The PSA asked the supplier of this type of lifeboat - Umoe Schat-Harding - to inform all of its customers that use FF 1000-type lifeboats about the incident on Veslefrikk B.
Statoil's investigation report does not provide any clear conclusions as to why the damage occurred, but the company has appointed a new group which has been given a mandate to identify the flaw. Since the causal relations are unclear, Statoil cannot rule out that the weakness on the free-fall lifeboat has relevance for comparable types of free-fall lifeboats.
Based on the investigation report, Statoil concluded in the meeting with the PSA that the company is in doubt concerning the quality of these lifeboats as a means of evacuation during all types of weather conditions.
The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway shares this doubt. Therefore, in line with our precautionary attitude, we have contacted all operating companies and shipowners on the Norwegian shelf, asking the companies to evaluate whether Statoil's uncertainty associated with this type of free-fall lifeboats (FF 1000 D and S) as a means of evacuation is also relevant for their facilities.
To ensure transfer of experience, the PSA has also contacted the Norwegian Maritime Directorate in order to assess whether the uncertainty linked to this type of free-fall lifeboats may have consequences for ships that have installed this equipment.
The PSA will also inform the authorities in other countries about the incident on Veslefrikk B.
Follow-up of Statoil - Veslefrikk B
After production on Veslefrikk B was shut down on 21 June, the PSA received and processed an application for exception regarding production start-up. Herein, Statoil described compensatory measures such as reduced manning, restriction of general activities and weather restrictions. The two remaining conventional lifeboats on the facility, with a capacity of 130 persons, were incorporated as part of the emergency preparedness.
Based on the information obtained, we granted Statoil permission to resume production on Veslefrikk on 24 June, but with a maximum crew of 85 persons.
At 2300 hours on 6 July, the PSA was notified that faults had been discovered on the lowering mechanisms for the two conventional lifeboats on Veslefrikk B. Therefore, the preconditions for continued production were no longer fulfilled, and production on the facility was again shut down. Production will remain shut down until the necessary evacuation capacity has been reestablished in the form of lifeboats.
There are no direct parallels in the causal relations between the problems experienced with the free-fall lifeboat and the conventional lifeboats, but the PSA has asked Statoil for a written report on why the condition of the two conventional lifeboats on Veslefrikk B was not examined as a step in the exception process before production was resumed on 24 June.
Contact in the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway: