Several defects have been identified in the four conventional lifeboat systems on Veslefrikk A and B in recent weeks during planned maintenance and extra inspections. These two installations are linked by a bridge.
Defects were discovered in the lowering system on one of the B platform's lifeboats on 6 July, during planned maintenance work.
A crack was also discovered on July 23rd between a steel girder and the glassfiber-reinforced plastic attachment of the lowering system at the forward end of a lifeboat on Veslefrikk A. No cracking was found in the actual hull of this craft.
An additional inspection of the two Veslefrikk B lifeboats was carried out on the evening of July 25th, which identified corrosion on bolts and attachment plates for the lowering system.
These two craft have been removed from service, and staffing on Veslefrikk is being reduced to 42 people July 26th.
As a result of these cases, Statoil has resolved to carry out an investigation of the lifeboat maintenance program on the Veslefrikk field.
"We take a serious view of this business," says Geir Amland. He is acting senior vice president for the Troll/Sleipner cluster, which includes Veslefrikk.
"I'm pleased that we've identified these defects through our maintenance work and additional inspections, but we can't tolerate uncertainty about the lifeboats on this field," he adds.
"We'll accordingly be investigating the program and the way lifeboat maintenance has been carried out on Veslefrikk up to the present."
He emphasizes that safety is paramount for Statoil. "Production on Huldra and Veslefrikk has been shut down since July 23rd, and will remain so until the lifeboats are found to be fully in order."
Each of the lifeboats on the A platform can seat 58, while those on Veslefrikk B accommodate 65 apiece.
Veslefrikk produces about 30,000 barrels of oil per day, and Huldra yields some six million daily cubic metres of gas through an unstaffed platform operated remotely from Veslefrikk.
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