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Rig in December fatality in North Sea to be used again

The Norwegian safety authority said Aker BP can use the Maersk rig tied to a December fatality at a field audited in late 2016.

By
Daniel J. Graeber
Aker BP given consent to use the Maersk Interceptor rig, on which a fatal accident occurred in December. Photo courtesy of A.P. Moller-Maersk
Aker BP given consent to use the Maersk Interceptor rig, on which a fatal accident occurred in December. Photo courtesy of A.P. Moller-Maersk

Jan. 25 (UPI) -- A Norwegian safety regulator said it would let oil and gas company Aker BP use a drilling rig in the North Sea on which a fatal accident occurred in December.

"We have given Aker BP consent to use the Maersk Interceptor jack-up drilling facility in the North Sea," the Petroleum Safety Authority of Norway said in a statement. "The consent covers use of the Maersk Interceptor facility for drilling and completion of two water injection wells on the Ivar Aasen field in the North Sea."

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Aker BP in December said a "serious accident" on the Maersk Interceptor drilling rig, contracted at the time to tap into the Tambar oil field in the North Sea, left one person dead and another injured. The deceased, a Norwegian citizen working for Maersk Drilling, died after falling into the sea.

Maersk in early January was issued a corrective-action order by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, calling on the company to examine how it used portable lifting equipment like hoists and cranes and identify any risks on the rig.

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After the incident, Aker BP CEO Karl Johnny Kersvik said the company would make all of its resources available during the investigation and do its "utmost to identify the cause."

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PSA investigators were on the rig from Dec. 9-13 investigating the accident.

"There is no direct link between the order and the consent to use Maersk Interceptor for production drilling," the PSA said in response to emailed questions. "The consent indicates our confidence that the operator can execute the activity within regulatory parameters and in line with the details provided in the consent application."

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Aker BP started production at the Ivar Aasen field in late 2016. The field has a peak production capacity of 68,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day and will be connected to infrastructure associated with the nearby Edvard Grieg field.

That same year, the PSA found non-conformities related to instructions for heavy equipment and material handling during an audit of the company's operations at the field. Improvements were recommended for evacuation routes.

When christened in 2014, the Maersk Interceptor was the largest rig of its kind in Norway. The rig, built in 2013, is designed to operate in extremely harsh environments.

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Drilling using the rig at Ivar Aasen begins in February.

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