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Lloyds List: Shell criticised over North Sea safety

Published: Jul 19, 2006

SHELL’s safety record in the North Sea has been slammed in a Scottish sheriff’s report into the deaths of two workers on Brent Bravo, writes Martyn Wingrove.

The Anglo-Dutch oil major has been heavily criticised for defects on the 30-year-old production platform and operation failings to prevent the deaths in September 2003.

Sheriff Colin Harris said the deaths of Keith Moncrieff, 45, and Sean McCue, 22, in the platform’s utility leg may have been prevented if a temporary pipe repair was more effective and if the risks of working in the leg were properly assessed.

The 38-day fatal accident inquiry concluded that there was a failure to set out limits of working in that part of the platform and that the permit to work system, including a risk assessment, was not followed.

The two workers were inspecting a temporary repair patch on a pipeline when they were overcome by gas. An emergency shutdown valve failed during the inspection which allowed gas to travel into the pipeline and leg where they were working.

Shell was fined GBP900,000 ($1.6m) after admitting health and safety breaches. It has since improved procedures and training programmes after undertaking a thorough review of its North Sea offshore installations.

‘In the three years since the tragedy, we have worked hard to understand the root cause of why it happened and have put measures in place to prevent anything like this happening again,’ Shell said.

The sheriff’s report criticised Shell’s decision to restart production on the Brent Bravo platform in August 2003 in the knowledge that an emergency shutdown valve had failed.

It said there was a failure to carry out a robust risk assessment of the possible consequences of starting up the platform with a valve failure.

 

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