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The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway to investigate major gas leak on Visund

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) will investigate the leak that occurred on Visund on 19 January. A large hole has been observed in the flare pipe where the leak occurred. This indicates that the gas leak was very large.

Visund. Photo: StatoilThere were 91 people on board the Statoil-operated facility (see photo) when both gas and flame detectors were tripped at 00:03 hours. Production was shut down immediately.

Seventeen people were evacuated by helicopter to the Gullfaks A facility, while other personnel who did not have assigned tasks in connection with the incident were mustered to the lifeboats.

The situation was normalized by about 02:30, and the muster was concluded.

The PSA has maintained close contact with Statoil after the incident. As a consequence of the extremely bad weather conditions, inspections of the process facility were not conducted until after daylight. According to management on Visund, a hole with a diameter of 50-60 cm has been observed in the pipe that leads to the flare stack.

The observation indicates that substantial volumes of gas flowed out of this hole. The gas continued to flow until the process facility was completely depressurized. Because of the strong winds, the gas quickly blew away from the Visund facility.

Based on observations and preliminary analyses by the Visund management, there is little to indicate that the flame detector was tripped as a result of heat generation or fire. This is one of several factors to be examined by the PSA's investigation group.

Statoil has also appointed an investigation team after this serious incident.

Visund is an oil and gas field located in the North Sea, 22 km northeast of the Gullfaks field in the Tampen area. Production started in the spring of 1999. Link to more information on Visund (Statoil's website)

Contact in the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway:
Ole-Johan Faret,
Press contact
Mobile tel.: +47 970 54 064
E-mail: ole-johan.faret@ptil.no