PSA Norway Audits Wintershall's Plans for Exploration Drilling in PL 378

On March 2, 2009, the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) conducted an audit of how Wintershall Norge ASA (Wintershall) is planning for exploration drilling in production license 378 and for bringing in a semisubmersible rig. We did not identify any nonconformities in relation to regulatory requirements.

The audit has helped verify the basis for our consideration of the application for consent to conduct exploration drilling of well 35/12-2 using the Songa Delta semisubmersible drilling rig.

Background for the Audit

This operator is new to the Norwegian shelf and is therefore being followed up as regards its recently established management system, including obligations related to development, competence and capacity for implementing these types of operations.

Wintershall has carried out a merger process with Revus Energy Norge ASA (Revus), which has not previously conducted exploration drilling on the Norwegian shelf. Nor does Wintershall have experience as operator of exploration drilling on the Norwegian shelf.

Purpose of the Audit

The purpose of the audit was to examine Wintershall's compliance with obligations and requirements linked to the management of health, safety and environment (HSE) in connection with planning and implementing the activity.

The audit comprised consideration and review of the application for consent, presentations of the organisation's robustness, well design, emergency preparedness analysis and a review of the company's management system. Another key topic was the management's assessment of its own organisation's competence and capacity to handle the duties of an operator.

Result of the Audit

It emerged during the audit that the company has a small organization and will utilize consultants to carry out its first drilling activity.

We did not identify nonconformities in relation to regulatory requirements, but we did find four items with potential for improvement regarding

  • system for recording, studying and investigating hazard and accident situations,
  • system for safeguarding competence,
  • the drilling program's description of how mud weight is handled in relation to the riser margin in the pore pressure prognosis,
  • system for safeguarding maintenance of third party equipment on the facility.


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