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Prelude workers exposed to “hydrocarbon gas fire or explosion”

Posted by JOHN DONOVAN August 1, 2023

In a groundbreaking occupational health and safety experiment, Shell’s Prelude FLNG facility in Australia has managed to expose workers to delightful levels of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene (BTEX) along with a tantalizing risk of fire and explosion. Who needs aromatherapy when you can work for Shell?

Australia’s offshore regulator, Nopsema, couldn’t help but appreciate Shell’s dedication to pushing the boundaries of safety regulations. According to an inspector, Shell “satisfied on reasonable grounds” the contravention of an OHS law, but fear not, it seems they are likely to contravene it again! It’s all about consistency, right?

During a routine inspection, Nopsema inspectors discovered Shell’s innovative approach to risk mitigation. The work to remove the off-specification condensate Tank A pressure relief and vacuum relief valve was completed without bothering with those old-fashioned “appropriate controls.” Why bother with safety procedures when you can just wing it, right?

The inspector revealed that workers were potentially exposed to BTEX and even a “hydrocarbon gas fire or explosion.” Talk about a thrilling work environment! The inspectors were amazed at how Shell managed to overlook its own documented requirements for continuous measurement and management of BTEX. Who needs to follow procedures when you have the excitement of uncertainty?

Workers bravely complained to Nopsema about the unsafe work conditions. Shell, ever the caring corporation, acknowledged their concerns but couldn’t find any actions to reduce the risk of recurrence. Don’t worry, workers, it’s all part of Shell’s cutting-edge “trial and error” approach to safety!  Reminiscent of Shell’s infamous “Touch F*** All” safety culture on North Sea Platforms. 

Now, Shell has been given a deadline to make a tough choice. They must either follow their own procedures or come up with other creative controls to mask their failings. Decisions, decisions! How will they ever choose?

We salute Shell’s relentless commitment to pushing the boundaries of safety and their unwavering dedication to their workers’ well-being. After all, where would we be without such pioneering experiments in occupational health and safety? 

Right of Reply: Shell is invited to point out for correction any factual inaccuracies and supply closing comments for publication as part of this article on an unedited basis. 

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