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Shell worse North Sea safety record than BP

From a Shell North Sea insider: Despite all the safety assurances from Shell management it would appear, based on HSE recorded violations, Shell still have made little progress.

Since 2006, Maersk FPSO and Maersk Oil have breached safety regulations 35 and 34 times respectively. BP Exploration has broken 28 rules and Shell UK 38.

Press & Journal

HSE targets 30 North Sea operators over breaches

Firms ‘have broken safety rules 446 times’

By Ross Davidson

Published: 01/07/2010

Oil firms operating in the North Sea have broken health and safety rules nearly 500 times in the last five years.

The Health and Safety Executive sent out enforcement notices to more than 30 companies who had collectively broken 446 safety regulations since 2006.

Last night, the companies who breached most rules pointed to their improving safety records, but union leaders said the figures “did not scratch the surface”.

The HSE has sent out nearly 200 improvement or prohibition notices since 2006. In total, 155 rules were breached in 2006, with 76 the following year, 106 in 2008 and 83 in 2009. The HSE says firms have broken 26 regulations so far this year.

Since 2006, Maersk FPSO and Maersk Oil have breached safety regulations 35 and 34 times respectively. BP Exploration has broken 28 rules and Shell UK 38.

Last night, Jake Molloy, regional spokesman for the RMT union, said firms were issued with a letter informing them of any measures they need to adopt before any enforcement notices are issued. “The HSE writes to the companies saying they have identified these problems they would like addressed, but this is not recorded and might not lead to an enforcement notice,” he said.

“I am sure I am talking on behalf of many offshore workers when I say these figures do not even scratch the surface of the reality.”

Robert Paterson, health and safety director for industry body Oil & Gas UK, said the offshore industry had made huge progress in improving health and safety on its installations.

Tom van Leenen, managing director of Maersk Oil in the UK, said the company’s safety record had improved in recent years, but added: “We recognise that we can improve performance and we have invested considerable resources in identifying underlying issues and putting programmes in place to remedy problem areas.”

A Maersk FPSO spokesman said the company changed its management after receiving improvement notices last year. The changes had “resulted in greater ownership, commitment and attitude” and the firm was very proud of its safety record in the North Sea.

A BP spokesman said the company believed it had received a “relatively small” number of notices from the HSE given the scale of its North Sea operations.

A Shell spokesman said: “We take any enforcement notice very seriously and we co-operate fully with the HSE to ensure we comply.”

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