Petroleum Safety Authority Audits StatoilHydro, Polar Pioneer

Petroleum Safety Authority Norway conducted an audit of StatoilHydro and Transocean Offshore Ltd. The audit concerned planning and implementation of exploration drilling of well 7123/4-1S in the Barents Sea with the semisub Polar Pioneer.

The audit was conducted in the companies’ offices in Stavanger via interviews with key personnel and review of relevant documentation.

The audit was conducted on the basis of our main priority; prevention of damage to the external environment and facts on risk-impacting factors on the basis of guidelines regarding management of the risk of accidental discharges in Points 7.5.1 and 7.5.3 in the Storting (Norwegian Parliament) Report No. 8 (2005-2006): Comprehensive management plan for the marine environment in the Barents Sea and the waters off Lofoten

During the audit they looked more closely at the measures taken by StatoilHydro and Transocean to reduce the probability and consequences of accidental discharges on the Norwegian Shelf in general. They have also looked at measures implemented in other areas to improve the HSE level in the activities in the Barents Sea.

During the audit they followed up the systems established in the companies to ensure that operations are planned and implemented in accordance with regulatory requirements, where facts emerging from the management plan (HFB) form a vital basis for compliance with the requirements for drilling in environmentally vulnerable areas.

Relevant matters which we have looked at more closely include planning of the operation, risk analyses conducted, training and competence, practice and drills, maintenance, monitoring, management focus and operational procedures.

The audit has shown that planning and implementation of the operation with Polar Pioneer on 7123/4-1S are not in line with the regulatory requirements for operations in the Barents Sea.

They have identified insufficient consideration to the character of the operations, local conditions and operational prerequisites in relation to planning and implementation of the activities.

Assessments of the risk of blow-outs have not led to specific probability and consequence-reducing measures for this exploration drilling, compared with operations in other locations, despite the fact that all data on the Barents Sea dictate a need for particular care in this area, as is evident in the HFB.

The companies have not identified or implemented processes or activities to achieve improvements in the HSE level for the activities with Polar Pioneer in the Barents Sea. Areas that have received particular attention in the planning and implementation of the operations with Polar Pioneer are to an insignificant degree related to reducing the risk of major accidents, subsequent accidental discharges and the consequences thereof.

On the other hand, several measures have been implemented to reduce the risk of minor leaks and discharges of for example hydraulic oil from the facility.

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