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The PSA to hold seminar on well safety

What do eight selected, serious well incidents on the Norwegian shelf in recent years have in common? How has Statoil handled the lessons learned from the near-disaster on Snorre in November 2004? And are the players in the industry willing to share experiences and new knowledge about well safety? These are just a few of the many topics that will be addressed when the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) holds a seminar on wells and well integrity on 4 May.

Most of the presentations will be given in Norwegian, while a few will be in English.

  • Updated 7th April: The seminar is fully subscribed. To be registered on the waiting list, please send an e-mail to Margrethe Hervik (Margrethe.Hervik@ptil.no)

"A review of serious well incidents and other empirical data since 2003 shows that the industry needs to enhance knowledge and reinforce efforts to safeguard well integrity in all phases," says the PSA's discipline leader for drilling and well technology, Stein-A. Tonning.

For quite some time, the PSA has worked to develop understanding of the underlying causes of well incidents. The well safety seminar is part of this work, and the goal is to bring drilling and well personnel in the PSA and the industry together to learn and share experiences.

"The main artery of petroleum operations"
The number of well incidents on fixed and mobile installations on the Norwegian shelf has varied greatly in recent years, but overall we are talking about a double-digit number of incidents annually. (Link: Report - Development in Risk Level - 2004 - major accident indicators).

While considerable attention is often given to specific incidents involving personal safety, Tonning emphasizes the importance of maintaining full focus on the potential hazard that lies "hidden" under the seabed.

"We could say that the wells are the main arteries of these operations. Failure of the well barriers designed to prevent an incident from escalating can lead to the most serious situations possible in the petroleum activities. The Snorre incident is an example of that," says Tonning.

Barrier failure is a concern
Robust well solutions and a high degree of technical expertise are the main prerequisites for not creating irreparable damage in the subsurface, and ensuring that the communication between the reservoir and the installation provide good exploration and production conditions, while also ensuring the safety of personnel and the environment.

"Good well integrity requires robust well barriers. In recent years, however, the PSA has recorded several incidents involving failure of well barriers, and many wells have been taken out of operation for the same reason. The causes have included defects linked to construction, unclear technical condition, changed conditions for use and insufficient competence on the part of the personnel involved. The gas blowout on Snorre A has illustrated very clearly that inadequate management and insufficient understanding of risk can have very dramatic consequences," says Tonning.

"A trend towards more demanding drilling and well solutions and a continued lack of openness in reporting well incidents support the need for the industry to change its attitude," Tonning emphasizes.

The PSA encourages openness, exchange of experience and standardization in this area; topics which will be addressed in the seminar.

Exciting program - and it's free
The PSA's seminar is free, but the number of participants is limited to 150.

A central part of the seminar will deal with results from investigations, audits and studies the PSA has conducted in relation to selected well incidents involving well barrier failure on the Norwegian shelf during the period 2003 - 2005.

Based on this material, Professor Bernt Aadnøy from the Institute for Petroleum Technology at the University of Stavanger (UiS) will present learning points for well design and discuss how this knowledge can be applied in the industry.

Several representatives from various parts of the industry, both operators and well service companies, will share their hands-on operational experience. A representative from Statoil will also talk about the company's experience and the measures implemented following the Snorre A incident, with particular focus on well barriers.

The seminar will also have an international perspective in that the British HSE authorities will give a presentation on how these issues are handled in the UK.

A final program will be published on the PSA's web site in the near future.

The deadline for registration is 21 April.

Contact in the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway:
Ole-Johan Faret, Adviser
E-mail: ole-johan.faret@ptil.no
Telephone: +47 51 87 67 59