Statoil Resumes Barents Sea Drilling Operations

Eirik Raude, on May 3rd, resumed drilling a wildcat on Statoil's Guovca prospect in the Barents Sea after a three-week halt, in agreement with the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway.

Together with contactor Ocean Rig, Statoil has completed a detailed investigation relating to the accidental discharge of hydraulic oil on April 12th.

This incident prompted the group to halt drilling by Eirik Raude on its own initiative.

The authorities also initiated an inquiry and refused to allow new operations before the discharge and compensatory measures had been reviewed in detail.

According to the official investigation, the direct reason why about one cubic meter of hydraulic oil leaked out was the rupture of a hose.

The latter should have been replaced, and the inquiry revealed failures in the monitoring system on the rig.

Statoil takes a serious view of this incident, which exposed weaknesses in routines and systems, and has initiated a series of measures with Ocean Rig to prevent such incidents in the future.

In the review after April 12th, all hoses and systems have been thoroughly checked and the damaged hydraulic hose replaced.

Although Statoil believes that the requirement for two barriers was met when the discharge occurred, supply hoses beneath the rig's cellar deck have been moved up to the deck.

To ensure closer monitoring of operations on board, Statoil has reinforced the crew with an additional drilling engineer.

The group has also carried out an impact assessment of the discharge, which shows that this limited leak of hydraulic oil has had no effect on the marine environment.

"Everyone working for us has an obligation in relation to health, safety and the environment," says Tim Dodson, senior vice president for exploration on the Norwegian continental shelf.

"We set very high environmental and safety standards, and it's up to us to demonstrate that we comply with these."

Statoil has been in close touch with the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway and the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority over the discharge and its investigation.

"The measures implemented before drilling resumed have been adopted in close consultation with the authorities," says Mr. Dodson.

"By taking these steps, we're minimizing the possibility of future undesirable incidents."

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