PSA reprimands Equinor over two platform accidents offshore Norway

Jan. 19, 2021
The Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authority is investigating an incident at the Heidrun field platform in the Norwegian Sea.

Offshore staff

OSLO, Norway – The Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) is investigating an incident at the Heidrun field platform in the Norwegian Sea.

During a lifting operation last Sunday on the pipe deck, a staff member was struck on the head by a crane hook and had to be flown ashore by a search and rescue helicopter for treatment.

The PSA’s team will seek to assess the actual and potential consequences of the incident; identify direct and underlying causes, and any non-conformities and improvement points related to the regulations; and apply enforcement powers where necessary to correct possible regulatory breaches.

Equinor, which operates Heidrun, also received an order from the PSA following the latter’s assessment of an incident last August on the Statfjord platform, which involved a short circuit and personal injury.

The investigation also covered the drilling contractor, Archer.

A short circuit and arc flash occurred while a defective circuit breaker in an electrical switchboard was being replaced during drilling, resulting in a fire. This led to a production shutdown and material fire-related damage.

Personnel extinguishing the fire were exposed to harmful smoke and had to receive treatment: this could have had serious toxic effects or fatal consequences, the PSA found.

And in slightly different circumstances, the arc flash generated by the short circuit could have caused serious burns for one person.

The direct cause was likely a conductive foreign body which induced a short circuit when the breaker was inserted, with a consequent arc flash and fire.

The investigation identified 11 nonconformities, including Equinor’s risk management and barrier management; deficient expertise and training; conducting maintenance work at night; inadequate information-sharing and use of information systems; failure by Equinor to ensure that Archer complied with requirements in the HSE legislation; inadequate arc flash analysis; lack of protection against thermal effects, and against interruptions.

Equinor has been directed to take various measures in response, and to report on how it will comply with the order by Feb. 1. The compliance deadline is April 5.

The PSA has also requested Archer to explain how it will deal with two non-conformities, and for Equinor to coordinate a collective response.