Helicopter safety on Statoil's radar after fatal April accident

Employees dead after helicopter crashed on its way to an offshore platform.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  Updated Sept. 23, 2016 at 10:31 AM
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STAVANGER, Norway, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Norwegian energy company Statoil said it would learn from the lessons on stove-piping after publishing findings from a fatal April offshore accident.

A helicopter used by the company crashed April 29 off the coast of Norway after picking up passengers from a Statoil oil platform. The group on board included 11 Norwegians, one Italian and one British citizen, according to authorities. All were employees of Statoil.

The company in May started an in-house investigation into the incident and published those findings Friday.

"Our clear ambition is to maintain our leading role in further developing and enhancing the existing helicopter safety standard," Statoil Chief Operating Officer Anders Opedal said in a statement. "The report provides a good basis for ensuring an optimal organization and holistic approach to this."

The helicopter was en route from the Gulfaks B platform at the time of the incident. The Petroleum Safety Authority of Norway mobilized its response team shortly after the crash, but said that, since it was not responsible for aviation safety, its role would be limited.

In its reports, Statoil said the organization of helicopter safety was complicated because of the number of players involved, each of whom have a varying degree of understanding about their role in the work. The company, the report said, needs to find ways to better share information across various channels and ensure better interaction in general.

"The investigation concludes that Statoil's helicopter safety work on the Norwegian continental shelf is good," the document read. "At the same time the report stresses that the industry's efficiency improvement efforts and increased focus on costs must not compromise safety, emphasizing that a possible introduction in Norway of common European safety requirements will change the risk picture associated with helicopter operations."

The incident was the worst of its kind on the Norwegian continental shelf in nearly 20 years.

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