14 June 2007
On June 12 a Mr Dave Stroop posted comments relating to the Brent Bravo tragedy and in regard to former Royal Dutch Shell Group Audior, Mr Bill Campbell. Mr Campbell has now provided a response to the comments. The discussion is timely in view of the related comments published today by Dow Jones Newswires…
We understand that Shell have already been served with two improvement notices this year by the Health & Safety Executive, one for Clipper, the other for Dunlin, bringing the total from the 1999 audit up to this day to 51.
THE COMMENTS MADE BY DAVE STROOP
June 12th, 2007 07:55
Comment by Dave Stroop on the article…
Dear Mr John Donovan,
I am pleased that Shell accepted liability for the deaths of the two men on Brent Bravo. I can remember that night, like it was yesterday. In fact I can remember it vividly!
The Shell Management of the platform were culpable in every way, why some people may ask? Well, they were in charge of the site. However, employees also have a responsibility, not just to the employers, but, also to their families and their co-workers. What makes a qualified technician, with many years experience on the installation, carry out a task which the management did not know about? Did he have a permit? Did he carry out activities as per the procedures he WAS trained in? Did he remove himself from the area as per evacuation procedures he WAS trained in?
Perhaps he did. Read the court transcripts and the HSE report properly.
Yes Shell has cut its maintenance budgets in recent years. Yes, I know of contract staff falsifying records. Was it reported, yes it was, verbally.
Did one of the deceased technicians carry out a task several years before and cause a gas release?
Was he reprimanded?
How did it happen again?
The next time you carry out a task at home, or employ a tradesman to carry out a task, ask yourself this question? Am I qualified to do this, do I know the law? Are my contractors qualified?
Comment by Dave Stroop on the article…
June 12th, 2007 09:03
Campbell subsequently became Shell Expro’s head of production operations and maintenance strategy from 1993 to 1996, responsible as head of a department that set the standards of competence for essential training and emergency response.
Mmmmmmmmm…..I went Offshore for the first time in 1993 for Shell. Thanks for the legacy Bill. Your strategy led to all the maintenance changes which happened since then.
Were you not involved in the Maintenance and Engineering Integrated Services Contract, which basically removed Shell from responsibility of maintenance and put it in charge of garage mechanics?
REPLY BY MR BILL CAMPBELL
In his comments on the Wall Street Journal article Mr Stroop alludes to the fact that the deceased bare at least some culpability for their deaths. Yes they did, they carried out the work on the temp repair without a permit and entered the shaft without full compliance with the entry procedures.
However, in mitigation they were working in a regime where not to comply had become normalised.
It is and continues to be a defence by Shell that the deceased bore culpability for their own deaths, after all on 25th July 2005 in The Hague van der Veer stated after accepting that his Company had failed to follow up on the 1999 audit that his Directors were not to be blamed since after all quote Directors don’t sign permits unquote. This despicable comment however masks the fact that procedural anarchy had reigned since 1999. On 17th August 2003 the offending pipe leaked and gas was known to be present since it raised a gas sensor into alarm at low level, this early warning went unheeded and instead of repairing the pipe the platform started up on 22nd August, and at the same time the LCV on the degasser vessel was known to be passing and the ESD valve downstream of the Degasser Vessel was known to be in a failed condition all contributed according to the Sheriff (along with 7 other ESD valves) to the estimated 8000 + cubic meters that flowed into the shaft on the 11th September.
All of this known and accepted by Offshore and the Onshore Asset Manager. It is morally reprehensible to attach any blame to the deceased for their untimely and unlawful deaths if they are required to work in an environment where there were known to be chronic weaknesses and deficiencies in management and supervisory controls.
The deceased would never have entered the shaft to repair the leak if it had been properly repaired between the 17th August and start up but of course that might have delayed start up and as was the case in 1999 production very much took precedence over Safety. Also as covered by the post Fatality Review and the Sheriff statements to carry out work under the so called ‘Operations Umbrella’ instead of via the permit system had become custom and practice – another carry over legacy of Touch Fuck All instruction.
On the other subject, when I took over as Head of Maintenance Strategy etc the MMSC contracts had been in place for a number of years, my strategy was to place all maintenance under a risk based regime known as Reliability Centred Maintenance. This was not the problem. The problem was, as witnessed and accepted by Shell Expro in 1999 was that this maintenance was neglected under the infamous Touch Fuck All instruction. On Brent Bravo alone, against a reported 96% compliance with safety critical maintenance the actual maintenance physically carried out was 14%. The OIM, the Operation Supervisor the Asset Manager at all times retained the responsibility for the maintenance of THEIR assets, all that had changed was that a Contractor was responsible for the execution of this maintenance on THEIR BEHALF.
All the Contractors supervision accepted in 1999 that the maintenance was not being executed but they were working, as all Contractors do, under instruction. In fact they were incentivised to comply at 100% but were still paid for the 14% at the 96% rate because Shell had approved the deviations, the Contractor could not on his own approve any deviations. The Contractor was relatively happy since he was being paid for doing work that he was not doing. Of course since the maintenance was reliability based the plant started to fail, but to overcome this the safety systems were simply inhibited from operation. In September 1999 Brent Bravo had 29 inhibits on safeguarding systems in its control room log, many of which were not approved and another 7 related to the operation of the oil separator in a dangerous condition to augment production by som 20 % which were not even logged, at the same time Brent Delta had 98 inhibits.
This situation deteriorated significantly and by 2003 literally thousands of safety critical elements failed to danger on the 17 offshore installations covered when tested and subject to review by the Post Fatalities Technical review team. Many principal ESD valves were known to be functionaly impaired and many had falsified performance records entered into the maintenance database and of couse there was over 600 temp repairs of which 50% or so were not approved. I never had any problems with the competence of the Contractor to execute the maintenance, they were not garage mechanics, if the Asset Operator does not allow you to execute the maintenance then as a Contractor you should not be held fully culpable. That is the real story, perhaps you can pass it on to Mr Stroop. I do not think I ever met him but thank him at least for showing an interest in the subject matter.