BP Slammed By Norway Regulator for Valhall Fire

LONDON (Dow Jones Newswires), Jan. 5, 2012

BP has been ordered to take immediate steps to address a number of "serious breaches" of regulations in connection with a fire on its Valhall platform last year, Norway's offshore safety authority said Thursday.

The Petroleum Safety Authority said the July 13 fire involved the breakdown of a crane engine due to overheating, which led to a fire in the vent stack of the platform's compressors. The blaze led to production at the 40,000 barrel a day field shutting down for more than two months.

"Overheating combined with a defective spark arrestor and silencer meant that red-hot particles leaving the exhaust pipe blew across and ignited flammable gases from the vent stack," the regulator said in a statement.

No people were injured in the incident, although the safety body said that under slightly different circumstances it could have escalated and led to the loss of life.

The findings once again put the U.K. energy giant's record under the spotlight nearly two years after a rig leased by BP exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 men and leading to the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. That incident followed a blast at its Texas City Refinery in 2005 that resulted in the deaths of 15 workers. Chief Executive Bob Dudley has sought to put safety at the core of the company's operations since then, but incidents like Valhall risk undermining claims that BP is indeed implementing higher standards.

"The PSA's investigation of the incident has identified a number of serious breaches of the regulations related to BP's management system," the agency said. "These relate to lack of maintenance, deficient maintenance management, inadequacies in risk identification and deficient barrier management."

BP has been given until Feb. 1 to provide a plan for addressing the faults on the installation identified by the PSA, with work to be completed by July 1. However, the regulator doesn't intend to recommend the matter for police investigation, said PSA spokesman Oyvind Midttun. The company would only be liable for sanctions or fines if the PSA passed the case on to Norway's judicial authorities.

BP said the PSA's report confirmed its own investigation's finding that the crane was the source of the overheating. "We have made a number of corrections to make sure that the facility is upgraded," said BP spokesman Jan Erik Geirmo. "We are committed to learning from incidents such as this and to improving our performance," he added.

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.


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rod | Jan. 6, 2012
I think we have to do more multitast inspection to prevent those expenses dangerous job site work specially crane and winschil failure and other mechanical problems and hydraulic issues i think if we work very carefully and do more efficiently inspection we can prevent failures i think all is about safety operation like any other job in the oil field that my concern at this point.

Nagi Abdussamie | Jan. 6, 2012
Dear Sir, I believe that risk assessment "qualitative and quantitative" should cover the crane-related incidents. To do so this incident can be investigated more, and use the outcome data to obtain a detailed risk profile. The crane subsystems: Hydraulic system, control system, power system, and the mechanical system (winches, wire ropes, booms, etc.) are to be analyzed. The obtained results may be useful to address the weak points that can improve the design and the operation of marine/offshore cranes. The corrective actions may include re-arrangemet of Hazardous Zones based on the crane location and the flow pathlines of engine exhaust of that crane, and the insulation used to protect the exhaust pipes. The electric protection of motor overheating fault as well. So we are always learning from our mistakes. Thanks and I hope the onshore and offshore lives safe and safe Nagi

Mark Van Sickle | Jan. 6, 2012
I think this is just another example of BP thumbing its nose at safety within the oil & gas industry. They are so big and so clueless when it comes to operating responsibly. I have a relative who worked for Amoco Oil Company when they owned and operated the Texas City Refinery. I worked for Amoco Chemicals Corp. for eight years. Amocos safety record was impeccable and they placed high priority on maintenance and safety at this and all of their facilities. Fifteen employees did not have to die at the Texas City facility in 2005. Eleven people did not have to die in the GOM either. Its a just blatant lack of regard that BP has for operating safely and responsibly within the industry.

daveconnorjnr@btinternet.com | Jan. 6, 2012
Lack of maintenance? / inspection?

Al Stein | Jan. 5, 2012
Finally, someone is not Intimidated nor Bought-off.... North America desperately needs this regulatory identity, just for (BAD PEOPLE) BP itself, and to think North Americans squirm over the Chinise moving-in heck they look like Gold compared to the BP ongoing problem, which never gets solved. Al.

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