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Shell slammed for ‘serious’ safety slips

Anglo-Dutch supermajor Shell has been hit with a safety order from the Norwegian authorities following an investigation into a well incident on the Draugen platform in December last year.

Aleya Begum 23 May 2011 11:44 GMT

The Petroleum Safety Authority said today its investigation of the incident identified several serious breaches of the regulations.

“The non-conformities are related to inadequate management, inadequate risk assessment, inadequate well barriers, inadequate well barrier sketches, inadequate well control, and inadequate daily reporting of drilling and well activities,” said the PSA.

The incident occurred during a wireline operation to replace a gas lift valve in well 6407/9-A-01. The operation resulted in the subsurface safety valve becoming stuck in the Xmas tree, blocking the upper mast valve, and leaving only one barrier against a potential leak.

“Our main finding from the incident is that Shell had planned the wireline operation with only one barrier to prevent an accident from happening,” said PSA spokesperson Ola-Johan Faret.

“Safety regulations are quite clear that two separate barriers are required at all times. So we are now asking why Shell planned this wireline operation with only one.”

The incident did not result in any injury to personnel but involved major accident potential, said the PSA in its statement.

Shell now faces orders to “assess as well as test” its criteria for continuing the well intervention on Draugen and to assess its criteria for implementing internal investigations of serious incidents on the facility.

The company has until 1 June to comply with the order.

“Shell must now show us that they understand that future operations must have two barriers. This is not an order specific for Draugen, its organisational and about overall management,” said Faret.

“They must show us that they understand the requirement applies in all their operations. “

“We will comply with the order from the PSA and use any learnings to avoid similar incidents in future,” said Shell spokesperson Kitty Eide.

“We will implement the PSA safety order.”

Published: 23 May 2011 11:44 GMT  | Last updated: 23 May 2011 13:59 GMT


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