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Another North Sea Storm for Shell


By John Donovan

It is getting on to 20 years since Shell safety expert Bill Campbell led an HSE audit team which exposed a “Touch Fuck All” culture in relation to maintenance and safety issues on Shell’s Brent Bravo platform. After two decades of promises by Shell to give safety the highest priority, Shell has just been ordered to shut down its North Sea Armada platform on similar grounds. This follows weeks after the issuance of a prohibition notice by HSE inspectors in relation to Brent Charlie. (See links below). 

Then Shell boss, the charming Mr Malcolm Brinded,  promised to take proper remedial action after the Brent Bravo audit but failed to do so. Profit was put before safety. As a result, platform workers lost their lives in a subsequent avoidable accident. Just one of a string of Shell scandals involving Mr Brinded, including major corruption and fraud scandals. The fact that he does not refute or legally challenge my assertions speaks volumes.  

According to the BBC news report below, Shell has been served with six safety notices in the North Sea since May. 

I am sure Mr Campbell, who retired as HSE Group Auditor of Shell some years ago, will be appalled, but not surprised at the latest news.

UPDATE: Since the publication of the above article earlier today, has reported: “FRESH SAFETY WARNINGS FOR SHELL AT BRENT CHARLIE




Shell was ordered to shut down a North Sea platform by health and safety inspectors over concerns that corroded pipework could cause an explosion.

Inspectors found a section of the flare system on the Armada installation, 132 miles east of Aberdeen, was damaged.

The thickness of the pipe should be 7.1mm, but an inspection in June found it was about 1.6mm.

A prohibition notice was served, but Shell said production had resumed in July after improvements were made.

The company has been served with six safety notices for incidents in the North Sea since May.

The HSE said the Armada incident could have led to a gas leak, fire or an explosion.

The installation was previously operated by BG Group, which is now owned by Shell.

‘Top priority’

A Shell spokesman said: “Shell UK can confirm that we received a prohibition notice on 19 June in relation to the flare system on the Armada platform in the central North Sea.

“We have completed the necessary improvement work as stipulated under the prohibition notice and the platform returned to production on 9 July.

“Shell UK also received two improvement notices on 22 June 2017 in relation to both pipework and heating and ventilation integrity on our Brent Charlie platform in the northern North Sea.

“Work is ongoing on the Brent Charlie platform to complete the necessary actions required by the improvement notices.

“Shell’s top priority is the safety of our people, the environment and our assets.”

Earlier this month it was revealed Shell had been issued with a prohibition notice by health and safety inspectors over a gas leak on its Brent Charlie platform.

The installation, 115 miles north-east of Shetland, was shut down following the escape in May, and more than 30 workers were taken off.

Also earlier this month, the HSE said BG failed to install gas detection equipment first recommended 14 years ago.

The HSE said the adequacy of fire and gas detection systems aboard the Lomond gas platform could not be demonstrated.



Oil platform improvement notices issued over gas detection equipment

Shell issued with Brent Charlie prohibition notice over gas leak

Gas leak shuts Brent Charlie North Sea platform

Workers taken off Shell’s Brent Charlie platform after power failure

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  1. Bill Campbell says:

    Indiscriminate cost cutting can kill

    We read recently on this website about the remarkable reductions claimed in offshore operating costs by Shell. Certainly the trade unions (BBC Scotland news) think that the BG problems inherited by Shell and Shell problems with Brent C et al could very well be related to the past and ongoing drive to cut costs. It appears from the evidence in the prohibition and improvement notices that the consequences of cost reduction is degradation of some critical safety systems, a case of history repeating itself yet again.

  2. Needs fixing says:

    And all this in the countries with rather robust regulatory environments. It seems not limited to Upstream as I recall media reports in the last month or so of fires in Shell refineries in The Netherlands, Germany and USA as well as leaks in Singapore and The Netherlands.
    Hope for the contrary but given the severity, frequency and spread of incidents across the business, something nasty could be crawling up Shell’s back.

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