The gas blowout on Snorre A in the North Sea during 2004 was a serious reminder to both government and industry that failures in well barriers can have disastrous consequences for safety.
At the PSA, this incident led to the launch of an extensive project focused on a vision that the only wells to be found on the NCS would be safe ones.
An important objective for the agency has been to acquire an overview of the methods being used on the NCS to ensure well integrity.
A survey of 581 production wells from 12 installations in the spring of 2006 identifi ed weaknesses in every fi fth well. This showed with full clarity that action was needed by both industry and the authorities.
The PSA posted the report about well integrity challenges on the NCS to its website in May 2006, and organised a seminar to present the fi ndings to the parties concerned.
Well integrity was subsequently adopted as one of two priority areas when the results of the trends in risk level programme for 2006 were announced.
“The industry has made several important moves on the strength of our fi ndings,” says Stein A Tonning, the PSA’s discipline leader for drilling and well technology.
“Through the Drilling Managers’ Forum, the OLF has undertaken to follow up the results related to this area. One outcome of this has been the formation of a Well Integrity Forum embracing nine operator companies with fi elds in production on the NCS.”
The PSA has also maintained pressure on this issue through several extensive supervisory activities, he reports.
“During 2008, these will include an investigation into how operators on the NCS follow up their own action plans for improving well integrity on their fi elds.”
The NCS survey has also aroused international interest, and the PSA has presented its methodology and fi ndings to a number of regulatory and industry fora around the world.
Both the industry and other national regulators have also initiated a number of activities in the wake of these presentations.
“In addition, we established a collaboration on well integrity with the Dutch authorities in 2007 for a similar study on their continental shelf,” says Mr Tonning.
“The aim is also to compare data from Norwegian and Dutch offshore wells to identify similarities and differences in the scope and type of integrity-related problems.”