NOPSA Cites Safety Concerns on Four Vanguard FPSO

Australia's National Offshore Petroleum Safety Authority (NOPSA) issued a Prohibition Notice preventing petroleum operator Australian FPSO Management Pty Ltd (AFM) from using the process plant on its offshore facility, about 42 kilometers west of Barrow Island, Western Australia, until safety issues are resolved.

The issuing of the Prohibition Notice follows a recent inspection by NOPSA Occupational Health and Safety Inspectors of AFM's offshore facility, Four Vanguard, which is a Floating Production, Storage and Offtake vessel (FPSO).

The Four Vanguard's process plant is a pressurized system for separating oil, water and gas from production wells.

NOPSA is concerned that a number of critical safety systems related to shut down and emergency depressurization within the process plant are not currently able to meet the necessary standards. NOPSA inspectors believe this is an immediate threat to the safety of the offshore workforce.

NOPSA is a Commonwealth statutory agency that regulates the health and safety of the Australian national offshore petroleum industry through the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1967.

Each offshore facility operating in Australia is required under the legislation to have a safety case. The safety case sets out the facility operator's commitment to reducing risks to a level that is as low as reasonably practicable. The safety case must include a detailed description of the safety management system for a facility.

Performance standards for critical equipment must be listed in the safety case and failure to comply with the safety case is a breach of the law.

"Workforce safety is our highest priority and where threats to the safety of offshore personnel are identified NOPSA will continue to take enforcement action." said acting CEO of NOPSA, Ted Kirkbride.

"Operators of offshore facilities must be able to demonstrate that their critical safety systems are going to work reliably to agreed and binding standards."