Statoil finds faults after safety review

Published: Jan. 20, 2017 at 8:37 AM

Daniel J. Graeber

Norwegian energy company Statoil revealed Friday that operational and maintenance oversight could be stronger in a review of offshore incidents last year.

Statoil in October lost control of a well at the Troll field and later that month reported a hydrogen leak because of external corrosion of a pipe at the Mongstand processing complex.

No injuries were reported in either incident.

On the Troll incident, the company said its own internal investigation found it could have resulted in a loss of life if the gas had ignited. Statoil found some of the mechanisms inside what's known as a blowout preventer and other internal valve systems failed to function as intended, allowing gas to reach the floor of the drilling platform.

A blowout preventer malfunctioned on the Deepwater Horizon rig in 2011 in the Gulf of Mexico, leading to the worst accidental oil spill in the history of the industry.

"This is a very serious well control incident," Margareth Ovrum, a vice president for drilling at Statoil, said in a statement. "The actions taken will improve our ability to assess risk, both before and during operations."

On the Mongstad leak, Statoil found external corrosion was the cause of the release. The company said maintenance operations were prioritized incorrectly and risks weren't properly identified.

The internal safety report comes less than a year after Statoil completed an investigation into a fatal April incident offshore. 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. All were employees of Statoil.

In its report, 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.

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