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Trends in risk levels 2006: Positive features - several goals to reach for

The number of incidents with a major accident potential was stable or falling in 2006, depending on what aspects one is looking at. Nevertheless, the overall indicator for major accidents and fatalities remains unchanged from the previous year. This is because the potential of the near misses has not been reduced in the same way as the incident frequency. "It must be our definite goal to achieve an overall positive development with regard to both frequency and potential," says Director-General Magne Ognedal of the PSA about the Risk Level report that was published today.

None of the major accident indicators show a statistically significant increase in 2006. Nevertheless, the overall indicator for major accidents and fatalities does not show any improvement for either production facilities or mobile facilities.

This emerges from the Risk Level Project, which was presented in the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) on Thursday, 26 April.

"Viewed in isolation, the number of near misses has been reduced over the last few years, but the fatality potential associated with the incidents reported has not been reduced correspondingly," Magne Ognedal explains.

No overall increase
Hydrocarbon leaks, well incidents, ships on a collision course and leaks from underwater facilities are the types of incidents which contributed most to the overall fatality indicator for the production facilities last year. For mobile facilities, the biggest contributors were well incidents, ships on a collision course and damage to load-bearing structures.

The number of hydrocarbon leaks shows a statistically significant reduction compared to the period 2000-2005. "This reduction is very pleasing and is a result of the industry's own hydrocarbon leak project and the efforts of each operator," says Ognedal.

Serious on Visund
In 2006 there were two leaks with an emission rate of more than ten kilos of gas per second, one of them on Visund. This was the biggest leak ever in a process facility on the Norwegian shelf. Such leaks normally have a high potential for fatalities.

"It is therefore important that we now direct our attention towards leaks with a major potential - so that the total risk picture will show a positive development," the Director-General points out.

The number of incidents related to well control, ships on a collision course and serious injuries is falling. The frequency of incidents related to leaks/damage to risers, helicopter transport and anchoring systems is on a moderate increase, while fires and falling objects are on a stable level, according to the report.

Noise - affecting many people
Following a positive development in 2005, the indicator for hearing damage shows an increase this year. More people have also reported hearing damage to the PSA last year.

"The companies must become better at utilizing the tools they have in order to reduce risks for the most exposed groups," says Ognedal.

A close look at well service
Well service as a group had the poorest scores in the Risk Level Project's 2005 questionnaire. There are major differences within this group, however, and in 2006 one has looked more closely at what measures have worked well in reducing the risk.

One outcome of the study is that measures promoting better interaction and integration between the operator and contractors are of great importance for the HSE level.

Lower injury rate
The serious injury rate once more shows a positive development on production facilities. The 2006 level is significantly lower than the average for the period 1996-2005.

For mobile facilities, the frequency is stable and more or less unchanged from 2005 and within the average for the ten preceding years. No one died in accidents on the shelf in 2006; the last fatality occurred in 2002.

Land facilities included
The present phase of the Risk Level Project has continued and has further developed the work of the previous phases. What makes this project unique is its use of supplementary methods in measuring risk development.

A continual development in methodology is an important prerequisite for the success of the project. The work of including the land facilities began in 2005.

A limited number of results from the land facilities is presented for the first time this year.

Agree on the risk level
"The Risk Level Project is important work which the PSA is carrying out in cooperation with the industry partners. As such it also provides an excellent basis for the implementation of improvement measures which the parties agree on," Ognedal says.

"The project has gradually attained an important position because it helps create an agreed understanding of the risk picture," he concludes.

  • PS: The Trends in risk levels summary report is available in English (see link box). The main report and the report on land facilities is in Norwegian only.

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