PSA Norway Issues Investigation Report Over West Alpha Incident

During exploration drilling for Eni Norge AS in the Norwegian Sea on 6 January 2008, a roughneck on the mobile facility West Alpha fractured his right arm. His arm got caught between two drill pipes during a crane operation. The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) has investigated the incident.

The West Alpha is operated by Seadrill Offshore (North Sea) Ltd (Seadrill).

During lifting of a pipe to the pipe rack using the crane, the roughneck's forearm got caught between the pipe in the crane and an adjacent pipe that was already placed in the rack. The injured person suffered a fractured forearm.

The potential of this incident was significant and, under slightly altered circumstances, it could have resulted in serious personal injury and/or death.

Through our investigation we identified nonconformities in relation to regulatory requirements which include breach of procedures related to lifting operations, lifting methods and storage of pipes.

Among other things, we identified deficiencies in the management of the crane activity in question. This relates e.g. to planning and execution of the operation on the pipe deck, training of personnel and compliance with procedures related to the specific operation.

We also found deficiencies in connection with the pipe storage method and operational routines for pipe handling, as well as identification of the need for corrective measures.

The incident on the West Alpha is considered to be serious as regards the health, safety and environment aspect.

The investigation report indicates that the nonconformities are linked to insufficient competence, breach of procedures/inadequate use of procedures, deficient planning and execution of the lifting operation, inadequate work management, and deficient risk assessment and documented safety in connection with pipe handling method and storage of pup-joints on the pipe deck.

However, the PSA has concluded that a new order covering the same regulatory nonconformities identified in the incidents on the West Epsilon would not be very expedient, as all of the measures have not yet been implemented.

On this basis, we have asked Seadrill to ensure that all of the demonstrated nonconformities in this investigation report are evaluated vis-a-vis the actions the company has committed to in light of the order issued following the incident on West Epsilon (link), ref. Seadrill's submitted "Plan for measures subsequent to the incident on 14 September 2007."