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BBC News: Oil firms ‘must improve safety’

Wednesday, 21 November 2007, 11:25 GMT 
 
North Sea oil companies have been told that more must be done to improve their offshore safety record.

It follows a three-year investigation by the Health and Safety Executive.

HSE inspectors focused in particular on the safety and integrity of almost 100 offshore installations and their equipment.

Industry body Oil and Gas UK said the report highlighted the need for more work to be done, despite recent investment in maintenance. 

The report revealed that the HSE found a wide variation in performance across the sector and “worrying” variations within some companies.

It said some senior managers failed to make ongoing maintenance a priority.

Ian Whewell, head of HSE’s offshore division, said: “To prevent major accidents it is vital that companies have effective process safety systems to ensure plant and equipment is properly maintained and working as intended.

“Our advice to the industry is clear – when looking at and testing systems and procedures on installations, companies must ensure that all those parts that need to work together to prevent a major incident do precisely that.”

Tough action

The HSE warned that it is not afraid to take tough action.

Malcolm Webb, chief executive of Oil and Gas UK, said: “No-one in this industry is in any doubt about the importance of asset integrity, which is the key not only to the safety of our installations but also to the longer term sustainability of the industry.

“Over the last three years, industry has spent more than £3bn in the area of asset maintenance and we have done much to highlight and shift the focus to process safety and asset integrity management.

“However, the report highlights that there is work still to be done and that in some areas we are not yet where we need to be.”

Addressing concerns

He said: “We are committed to continuous improvement in this area and believe that the combination of individual company efforts and industry initiatives has already put us on the right track.”

The HSE recently partially upheld claims that Shell was not doing enough to ensure safety offshore.

The OILC and Unite Amicus unions had asked the HSE to investigate following complaints from their members.

Shell said at the time the company was co-operating fully with the HSE in addressing any concerns it may have.

We are committed to continuous improvement in this area and believe that the combination of individual company efforts and industry initiatives has already put us on the right track

Malcolm Webb
Oil and Gas UK
 
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/north_east/7105198.stm

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