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Channel 4 News: Shell: failings on deadly platform

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http://www.channel4.com/player/v2/player.jsp?showId=11357

Last Modified: 06 Mar 2008
By: Tom Clarke

Channel 4 News reveals, courtesy of HSE findings, serious safety failings at a Shell oil platform where two men died in 2003.

The Health and Safety Executive report on the Brent Bravo platform shows maintenance of critical safety equipment was far below standard; fireproof doors, which may not have worked properly; and corroded pipe work left untreated.

And all this on an oil platform run by Shell – the biggest and richest oil company in the North Sea.

HSE made these discoveries in 2005 when they inspected the Brent Bravo platform, two years after two men died on the platform.

It was inspected by the HSE as part of an industry wide review of offshore safety.

Details of their report were never made public. Channel 4 News has only been able to obtain it now through the Freedom of Information Act.

The North Sea oil and gas industry that made Aberdeen rich is one of the world’s most dangerous. Profits have always had to be weighed against risk.

Brent Bravo started production in the mid-1970s. It is one of the oldest installations in the North Sea.

Overall, corrective maintenance of “safety critical equipment” was 36 per cent against a target of 100 per cent.

The report also found the temporary refuge doors unacceptable.

These doors were designed to be fire and gas proof and it was discovered they might not have closed properly in an emergency.

Corroded pipe work on high-pressure gas lines hadn’t been repaired for over a year.

And test results on an emergency shutdown valve that should have been marked as a fail were wrongly recorded a pass.

Shell acknowledges the problems found by the HSE in 2005 but say the have now been addressed.

They point out that although test results on one safety valve were wrongly recorded, it was fully closed and perfectly safe. And the company claims to be spending hundreds of millions of pounds to improve safety across its North Sea installations.

But safety is a concern for some of Shell’s employees currently offshore. During a fire on the company’s Tern Alpha platform in March 2006 130 workers had to evacuate.

Just last year there was a small fire on Shell’s North Cormorant platform and days later a gas leak on its sister Cormorant Alpha.

As Channel 4 News revealed last month, the workforce of five platforms accused their management of a “severe lack of commitment to safety.”

The report into Brent Bravo was part of a wider review of all companies operating in the North Sea.

Of nearly 100 platforms visited by the HSE, over half failed to meet the required maintenance standards.

We asked the HSE to tell us which ones failed – our request was denied.

But they did tell us that the three-year investigation has established an improvement agenda for the industry.

The say individual inspection reports were shared with the workforce on the installations involved and strongly disagree with the suggestion that they are working in secrecy.

http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/business_money/shell+failings+on+deadly+platform/1722147

WATCH THE REPORT:

http://www.channel4.com/player/v2/player.jsp?showId=11357

Added by John Donovan: The report followed a recent discussion I had with a Channel 4 producer on the subject.

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