NOPSEMA: DOF Subsea Australia convicted of ‘negligently breaching’ health and safety duties

DOF Subsea Australia has been convicted in the Magistrates Court of Western Australia of three counts of an employer “negligently breaching” health and safety duties under the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Storage Act 2006, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) reported.

The breaches occurred during saturation diving at the Ichthys field on the Skandi Singapore facility in 2017, which included operations from a diving support vessel to repair subsea infrastructure on the seabed at a water depth of between 237 and 270 meters.

NOPSEMA received complaints from seven of the saturation divers between 6 December 2017 and 7 March 2018, advising of neurological injuries sustained during the diving operations.

On 6 December 2017, the Australian offshore regulator began an investigation into the complaints and subsequently forwarded a brief of evidence to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

“As Australia’s independent, expert regulator for the offshore energy industry, the workplace health and safety of the offshore workforce is at the core of what we do,” NOPSEMA stated.

“We remain focused on our compliance monitoring and enforcement activities to ensure operators are appropriately identifying and managing risks. NOPSEMA will continue to take enforcement action that is appropriate to the seriousness of any incident.”

Sentencing is set to occur on a date yet to be determined.

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Back in 2018, Australian media outlets reported that the divers were injured during a process known as blow-down which involves the chamber – their living quarters – being pressurized with a mixture of helium and oxygen to a storage depth, close to the depth they were due to work at.

The divers, who suffered brain injuries during what was believed to be Australia’s deepest-ever commercial dive, engaged a Perth law firm to sue for damages.

The Ichthys field is in petroleum production license WA-50-L in the Browse Basin about 220 kilometers off the northwest coast of Western Australia.

It is said to be one of the world’s most complex LNG projects. An 890-kilometer gas export pipeline delivers gas and some condensate from the Ichthys Explorer central processing facility (CPF) in the Browse Basin to onshore processing facilities at Bladin Point near Darwin.

NOPSEMA approved the environmental plan for the operation of the gas export pipeline (GEP) under the Ichthys LNG project at the beginning of summer.