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The UK’s workplace safety watchdog has reprimanded Shell following a gas leak on the Brent Bravo platform in November.

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The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said Shell has failed to “prevent the uncontrolled release of flammable or explosive substances”.

Its inspector accused the oil major of failing to ensure valves on the rig were kept in “efficient working order and in good repair”.

Shell has been given until March 8 to comply with the improvement notice.

A spokesman for Shell UK said: “Shell UK can confirm that we were issued with an HSE improvement notice on 8th December 2017 in relation to a small hydrocarbon release on our Brent Bravo platform in the North Sea.

“Work has been completed on the platform to comply with the requirements of the notice.”

The platform is situated on the Brent field, 115 miles north-east of Shetland.

Brent Bravo ceased production in 2014 and is awaiting decommissioning.

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Shell reprimanded over Brent Bravo leak was first posted on January 17, 2018 at 7:21 pm.
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Shell hit with HSE improvement notice at St Fergus http://royaldutchshellplc.com/2018/01/03/shell-hit-with-hse-improvement-notice-at-st-fergus/ Wed, 03 Jan 2018 16:03:23 +0000 http://royaldutchshellplc.com/?p=95002 Shell hit with HSE improvement notice at St Fergus was first posted on January 3, 2018 at 5:03 pm.
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Energy giant Shell has been ordered to improve its safety procedures at the St Fergus plant near Peterhead.

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said the company had failed to made “adequate arrangements” to ensure that “emergency shutdown and emergency depressurisation valve actuators” were maintained in an “efficient state and effective working order”.

HSE initially gave Shell until December 21 to comply with the improvement notice, but the deadline has now been extended to February 28.

A spokeswoman for Shell said: “We can confirm that we have been issued with an improvement notice on 23rd November 2017 in relation to the maintenance of emergency shutdown valves at our St Fergus plant in North East Scotland.

“We are working to address the requirements of this notice.”

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Shell hit with HSE improvement notice at St Fergus was first posted on January 3, 2018 at 5:03 pm.
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NAM Dutch Environmental Legacy not just Groningen Earthquakes http://royaldutchshellplc.com/2017/12/27/nam-dutch-environmental-legacy-not-just-groningen-earthquakes/ Wed, 27 Dec 2017 11:40:23 +0000 http://royaldutchshellplc.com/?p=94873 NAM Dutch Environmental Legacy not just Groningen Earthquakes was first posted on December 27, 2017 at 12:40 pm.
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In February 1965 there was a explosive blowout at a NAM gas field in Sleen, East Drenthe – an agricultural area of the Netherlands. A whole drilling rig was swallowed in a quicksand lake created by the explosion.

Afterwards, NAM, the company responsible for the explosion all those years ago and the earthquakes now plaguing Groningen, converted the area into a park.

Unfortunately, scientists have discovered to their consternation that methane leaks have contaminated the local groundwater and there is a risk of further explosions.

It would have been a disaster if this had all happened in a residential area.

(The Dutch Petroleum Company (NAM) is a 50/50 joint venture between Shell and Exxon.)

Text below is translated from an article by Marlies ter Voorde published in Dutch on 26 Dec 2017 by de Volkskrant.

Gas leak in the bottom of East Drenthe, groundwater at Sleen contains methane

In 1965 it all went wrong at Sleen in East Drenthe at a gas drilling. An explosion created a lake of quicksand that swallowed the entire derrick. Half a century later, geologists are worried about the crash site.

By: Marlies ter Voorde December 26, 2017, 10:31

There is a gas leak in the bottom of East Drenthe. The groundwater at the village of Sleen contains methane, originating from the gas field that is located in the subsurface at a depth of two kilometers. This is the conclusion drawn by earth scientists from Utrecht University and the water research institute KWR from the chemical analysis of water. The natural gas seeps through cracks that occurred 52 years ago in a drilling accident, the geologists think.

It is agricultural area, so the gas can go away. That would have been different if they had built a residential area

Geohydrologist Niels Hartog

Methane is non-toxic, but vigilance is required at high concentrations such as at Sleen. If the gas is released from the water in a poorly ventilated room there is a risk of explosions, possibly followed by fire. Scientists still have to figure out whether the natural gas at Sleen escapes the earth’s surface. ‘If that is the case, it can do no harm at this location’, says geohydrologist Niels Hartog of KWR, who worked on the research. ‘It is agricultural land, so the gas can go away. It would have been different if they had built a residential area with cellars and crawl spaces. ‘

The province says it knows the groundwater for all kinds of polluting substances, but not so far methane.

This is not a problem for drinking water, says Nico van der Moot, geohydrologist at the WMD water company that provides drinking water for Drenthe. Methane is removed from the water as standard and with a simple procedure for purification, says Van der Moot, who is not involved in the study.

‘That methane from a natural gas field is in the groundwater is exceptional’, he explains, ‘but methane from other sources is common.’ Soil bacteria that break down dead plant material also produce the gas, often in high concentrations. ‘Marsh gas, is it called. In Spannenburg in Friesland it is even extracted from drinking water as fuel ‘, says Van der Moot.

Jasper Griffioen, geochemist at Utrecht University who also cooperated with the research, agrees. ‘I know from India and Nepal sacred sources where an everlasting little flame burns on the surface of the water’, says Griffioen. ‘Hindus find that a sacred place, we see it as an earth science phenomenon.’

Accident

 

The discovery of the leaky natural gas field in Sleen was no coincidence, stressed earth scientist Gilian Schout of Utrecht University, lead author of the PNAS article. ‘We were looking for leaks, even with natural fractures and former wells.’

The search for suitable locations to store CO2 or waste water in the soil is in full swing, and then it is important to know if there are weak spots to keep an eye on, he explains. ‘If methane can leak away, other gases and liquids can in principle also pass through.’

The gas field at Sleen was a logical place to include in this study. In February 1965 it went wrong with a gas drilling. The high pressure in the gas field caused an explosion in which quicksand was formed, and the entire 50-meter high derrick in the soil disappeared. For a few months, a mixture of natural gas, mud and stones spurted out of the ground, only then did the NAM regain control of the situation.

The fact that natural gas is still leaking is evident from the chemical signature of the methane in the groundwater – which is the same as the composition of the methane from the Sleen gas field. However, the methane is broken down in the groundwater, the researchers discovered. The methane concentration decreases rapidly as the distance to the crash site increases.

Other leakages than those at Sleen have not yet been found by the researchers in the Netherlands.

‘It is agricultural land, so the gas can go away. That would have been different if they had built a residential area

Geohydrologist Niels Hartog

If methane can leak away, other gases and liquids can in principle also pass through

Earth scientist Gilian Schout

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NAM Dutch Environmental Legacy not just Groningen Earthquakes was first posted on December 27, 2017 at 12:40 pm.
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Unseaworthy Shell North Sea Platform Lifeboats! http://royaldutchshellplc.com/2017/12/22/unseaworthy-shell-north-sea-platform-lifeboats/ Fri, 22 Dec 2017 15:48:25 +0000 http://royaldutchshellplc.com/?p=94794 Unseaworthy Shell North Sea Platform Lifeboats! was first posted on December 22, 2017 at 4:48 pm.
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By a Retired Shell North Sea Platform Manager

The latest lifeboat incident in the North Sea Brent Alpha is very worrying indeed to everyone working offshore and in this case the remaining Shell operated platforms.

Brent Alpha is in the process of extensive decommissioning activities in preparation for the removal by the “Spirit of the Seas” in 2019.  

The problem with lifeboat release and retrieval systems has been know about many years before 2011 when the new IMO and SOLAS regulations were issued.  These regulations have to be complied with by July 2019 which applied retrospectively to all shipping and offshore mobile or fixed units..  

Is this another example of  any safety changes being deferred as they are not legally required to be implemented until 2019 irrespective of the safety of the Shell Staff and contractors working on board?

The traditional “Shell speak” of “we are committed to safety” is definitely wearing very thin.

ARTICLE ENDS

RELATED

Shell North Sea Lifeboats Dangerous Farce No. 3

By John Donovan: 17 Dec 2017

A lifeboat has fallen off the Shell Brent Alpha platform in the North Sea Brent field. See EnergyVoice.com article below: “Shell launches investigation after lifeboat plunges from platform”.

In March 2008, Shell made itself the object of derision when it was discovered that two lifeboats on the Brent Bravo platform in the Brent field were unseaworthy. The problem was similar in nature to the latest dangerous fiasco, involving faulty lifeboat clutches and how the lifeboats were secured on the platform. 

Extracts from an Upstreamonline.com article published 14 March 2008: Lifeboats trouble at Brent field

“If they had loaded up this particular lifeboat, the chances are it could have been launched into the sea in an uncontrolled fashion which would have caused death or injury as it was held in place by corrosion and not by the designed system,” claimed Molloy.

The Health&Safety Executive said: “Both lifeboats have now been repaired and Shell has checked that all the lifeboats on Brent Bravo are fault free and fit for purpose. Shell is now checking the boats on the rest of its Brent field.”

The 2008 article mentioned an almost identical incident from a year earlier, when a “lifeboat launched itself into the sea from Shell’s Tern platform as the brakes and clutches were dysfunctional”.

All of the pledges of “Safety being the No. 1 priority and measures, such as the appointment of a so-called Shell Safety Czar, have all proven to be worthless. 

After three repeats of the same basic failings, this must surely amount to gross negligence on the part of Shell senior executives? There should be an outcry from the offshore unions and the Health & Safety Executive?

If, God forbid, platform workers are seriously injured or killed in a further incident involving unsafe lifeboats on Shell platforms, relevant Shell executives will rightly be vilified and potentially held criminally responsible. 

Interested to see what Bill Campbell has to say on the subject. 

Shell has launched an investigation after a North Sea platform lifeboat plunged into the sea.

The incident unfolded on the Brent Alpha during maintenance work. The lifeboat’s clutch is believed to have slipped causing it to fall off the platform on Saturday. Crews recovered the boat early today.

A Shell spokesperson told the BBC it was looking into the incident.

The Brent field, operated by Shell, lies off the north-east coast of Scotland, midway between the Shetland Islands and Norway. It is one of the largest fields in the North Sea.

The field is currently being decommissioned.

Last week, Shell exclusively revealed to Energy Voice that the steel jacket for its Brent Alpha platform will be taken to Norway for scrapping.

The structure was expected to go to Able UK’s yard in Hartlepool as part of a deal agreed between the two companies in 2014.

But Steve Phimister, upstream vice president for the UK and Ireland at Shell, confirmed that the top part of the jacket would go to AF Gruppen’s yard at Vats instead.

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Unseaworthy Shell North Sea Platform Lifeboats! was first posted on December 22, 2017 at 4:48 pm.
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Lifeboat Accidentally “Descends” from Brent Alpha http://royaldutchshellplc.com/2017/12/19/lifeboat-accidentally-descends-from-brent-alpha/ http://royaldutchshellplc.com/2017/12/19/lifeboat-accidentally-descends-from-brent-alpha/#comments Tue, 19 Dec 2017 10:11:41 +0000 http://royaldutchshellplc.com/?p=94709 Lifeboat Accidentally “Descends” from Brent Alpha was first posted on December 19, 2017 at 11:11 am.
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By MarEx  18 December 2017

Shell has launched an investigation after a lifeboat accidentally “descended” from the aging Brent Alpha platform during maintenance.

A Shell spokesperson said that on Saturday morning, a mechanical failure occurred during routine maintenance, “allowing [the lifeboat] to descend into the sea.” The BBC reports that the lifeboat davit’s clutch slipped during work on the boat. No injuries were reported, and the boat was recovered the following day.

“Safety is our number one priority and at no time was there any risk to personnel and we are working hard to resolve this issue,” Shell UK said in a statement. “The Coastguard has been informed of the situation.”

In 2008, two “secondary” lifeboats on Brent Bravo were found to be unseaworthy and had to be repaired. “They were immediately secured and removed from service. However, this did not impact on platform manning, as these are secondary craft,” Shell said in a statement. The incident prompted the oil firm to review the condition of all lifeboats on the Brent field.

Lifeboat incidents have occurred on other operators’ platforms as well: an improperly adjusted winch brake caused the unintentional launch of a lifeboat from the MODU Maersk Giant in January 2015. Efforts to engage the manual brake were not successful; the boat drifted underneath the unit and its falls were eventually broken off by the strain.

Lifeboat accidents are not restricted to offshore rigs. Accidental on-load hook releases and other failures during lifeboat drills are a leading cause of death in the shipping and cruise industries.

Decommissioning

Brent Alpha is currently in the process of decommissioning, like the adjacent Brent Bravo, Charlie and Delta installations. The platforms’ topsides are currently being strengthened in order to withstand the stresses of lifting and removal, according to Shell. Brent Delta’s 24,000 tonne topside platform was removed by Allseas’ Pioneering Spirit in a single lift in April 2018, setting a new world record. The final lift – including arrival, setup, deballasting and “fast lift” – took only 12 hours. The topsides were delivered to the Able shipyard in Hartlepook, UK for final dismantling and recycling.

Brent Bravo was the first platform installed, in 1975, and the field’s name became synonymous with North Sea oil – and with oil itself, when Brent crude futures were adopted as the world oil price benchmark.

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RELATED: Shell North Sea Lifeboats Dangerous Farce No. 3 

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Lifeboat Accidentally “Descends” from Brent Alpha was first posted on December 19, 2017 at 11:11 am.
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