Australia: Stena Drilling pleads guilty in fatal rig explosion case

Australia Stena Drilling pleads guilty in fatal rig explosion case

Three years after two workers were killed in an offshore explosion on a drilling rig in Australia, the rig’s owner has pleaded guilty.

Namely, in the Magistrates Court of Victoria yesterday, Stena Drilling Australia Pty Ltd, the owner of the Stena Clyde – the rig in question – pleaded guilty for breaching its specific duty, as the operator of the rig to take all reasonably practicable steps to implement and maintain systems of work that were safe and without risk to health.

The incident occurred during drilling operations in Commonwealth waters in the Bass Strait on August 27, 2012 and resulted in the death of Stena Clyde floorman Peter Meddens and toolpusher Barry Denholm.


Related: Unions want answers on workers’ deaths. Slam ‘ineffective’ watchdog


Stuart Smith, CEO of NOPSEMA, Australia’s offshore oil and gas safety watchdog, said: “This prosecution has reinforced the requirement for an appropriate risk assessment system to be Implemented for all stages of work. Workers involved should have an opportunity to contribute to this assessment including consideration of factors such as stored energy; equipment design limits; and, impact of external conditions.”

He said communication was a key part of any work offshore and “supervisors should verify that all workers involved in any task understand their role and any associated risks.”
Smith added: “All equipment utilised in planned work should be fit for purpose and in good working order. If the equipment is not working correctly, a reassessment of the risks associated with the work or task should be conducted.”


Call for NOPSEMA overhaul


Marking the third anniversary of the tragic event,  Michael Borowick Assistant Secretary at Australian Council of Trade Unions ACTU said:

“The families, friends and work mates of Peter Meddens and Barry Denholm have been waiting a long time to find out what happened to their loved ones on that terrible day in 2012.”

“We are calling for Federal Government to overhaul NOPSEMA and replace it with a full service regulator who can act quickly to prosecute to ensure the reasons behind an accident are identified without this extraordinary delay.”

“The ACTU is also concerned NOPSEMA is too close to the industry to act as an effective regulator.”

“Without a full and independent investigation into such tragedies we cannot ensure other workers will not be exposed to similar dangers.”

“Offshore safety legislation must be brought into line with national OHS standards – there is no justification for lower standards of protections for offshore workers.


Offshore Energy Today Staff

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