PSA Raps BP's Knuckles over Ula Leak

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Norway's Petroleum Safety Authority reported late Tuesday that it has issued an order to BP following the safety body's investigation into the hydrocarbon leak on the UIa P platform on Sep.12 2012.

The PSA said that the incident, in which an estimated 125 barrels of oil were leaked from the platform along with more than a ton-and-a-half of natural gas, had the potential to become a major accident, with the "risk that a number of lives might have been lost and substantial material damage caused". Production was shut down for 67 days as a result of the leak, although no people were injured in the incident.

The investigation revealed that the leak was caused by fracturing of bolts holding together a valve in a separator outlet. Seepage in the valve exposed the blots to produced water with a high content of chlorides and a temperature of around 120 degrees Celsius, which resulted in chloride stress corrosion in the bolts until they eventually fractured.

On Monday the PSA said it had identified a number of serious breaches of regulations. Tuesday saw the organization confirm an order that BP must carry out two reviews by September 1 this year:

  • BP must review its management system for the Norwegian Continental Shelf with a view to assessing whether it is adequate for identifying and dealing with the nonconformities identified in the investigation of the leak.
  • The firm must also assess whether measures planned and initiated after an earlier fire on Valhall in 2011, and other improvement activities, are relevant and collectively adequate in light of the nonconformities identified following the leak on Ula.

Measures identified under the two items above must be implemented by Dec. 31 2013, the PSA added.

The Ula field is located in the southern North Sea and produces around 13,000 barrels of oil per day.

A former engineer, Jon is an award-winning editor who has covered the technology, engineering and energy sectors since the mid-1990s. Email Jon at jmainwaring@rigzone.com

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