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Financial Times: BP ordered to raise safety levels

EXTRACT: In the past 12 months, HSE said it had issued six improvement notices and one prohibition notice to Royal Dutch Shell and six improvement notices to Maersk of Denmark.

THE ARTICLE

By Carola Hoyos and Andrew Taylor in London
Published: May 9 2007 03:00 | Last updated: May 9 2007 03:00

The UK Health and Safety Executive has ordered BPto improve safety on its North Sea oil and gasinstallations, issuing 14 notices to the energy group in the past year.

BP confirmed it had been served the notices. The notices included concerns over maintenance of equipment, leaking pipes and valves that were still being manually operated.

Both the company and the UK safety regulator said BP had complied with 10 notices. The North Sea safety regulator added that the company had time to finish the rest before their deadlines expired. Unite, Britain’s biggest trade union, formed this month through the merger between Amicus and T&G, said it was not surprised, given BP’s safety record, that it had received so many improvement notices.

Graham Tran, Amicus offshore officer said: “Wehave been saying for many years that BP has failed to take advantage of rising energy price to step up its investment in maintenance. We now want to see some hard action in this area.”

BP said: “We take any improvement notices from the HSE extremely seriously and want to complete them as soon as possible.”

The company is undergoing a root and branch review of its operations following serious safety failings in the US, including the Texas City refinery fire that killed 15 people in March 2005 and last year’s pipeline corrosion, which forced the company to shut down its Alaska Prudhoe Bay field.

BP yesterday announced it had appointed Duane Wilson, a retired vice-president for refining and marketing at ConocoPhillips, to oversee its safety improvements.

Keeping ageing oil facilities safe is an industry-wide challenge.

In the past 12 months, HSE said it had issued six improvement notices and one prohibition notice to Royal Dutch Shell and six improvement notices to Maersk of Denmark.

The North Sea oil fields were first tapped more than 30 years ago. Much of the infrastructure was never expected to last this long, Matthew Simmons, founder of Simmons & Co, the industry investment bank, warned in a recent interview.

The North Sea safety regulator said it had increased the number of North Sea inspections in a bid to improve safety maintenance. It issued a total of 51 improvement notices and nine more serious prohibition notices in the past12 months.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007

 

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