Offshore watchdog spots 18 irregularities on Transocean rig

Norwegian offshore safety regulator, the Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA), has issued an order to Transocean after discovering a total of eighteen irregularities and one improvement point during an audit of the Transocean Spitsbergen semi-submersible rig. 

The PSA issued an order to Transocean Services last week after it identified serious breaches of the regulations in an audit of the company’s electrical facilities, safety instrumented systems, technical safety and drilling-related systems on the Transocean Spitsbergen rig.

The offshore regulator confirmed in its statement that the notification of the order was made on 30 November 2021, while the order was issued on 20 December 2021. The audit itself was conducted from 20 to 24 September 2021.

The main objective of the audit was to monitor how Transocean is complying with the regulations pertaining to electrical facilities, work in and operation of electrical facilities, safety instrumented systems, technical safety and drilling-related systems.

In addition, the audit aimed to monitor lithium-ion battery systems on the facility and Transocean’s handling of the risk that such installations entail while also following up on measures implemented after incidents were reported in the electrical system. 

The safety watchdog identified eighteen nonconformities and one improvement point during the audit. The PSA gave notice to the company of an order for an immediate halt to the battery system on board, however, as Transocean itself decided to shut down the battery system, this order was accordingly not issued.

Offshore watchdog issues order after spotting 18 irregularities on Transocean rig
Transocean Spitsbergen rig; Courtesy of Transocean

The nonconformities are related to internal follow-up, manning and competence; barrier management; lithium-ion battery system; ignition source control; ventilation system; selectivity in UPS system; emergency lighting; passive fire protection; refuelling installation; documentation of pressure and function testing; electrical facilities and installations; training and drills; maintenance programme; work in and operation of electrical facilities; the responsible person for the electrical facilities; signage; fibre composite gratings; risk assessment of health hazards from electromagnetic fields; and the improvement point concerned deficient routines.

The PSA claims that Transocean was issued with an order consisting of three parts on the basis of the regulator’s observations in the audit, which is pursuant to the Framework Regulations, section 69 concerning administrative decisions.

Systematically review and map available manning and competence

The first part states that Transocean is ordered to systematically review and map available manning and competence in the company’s onshore organisation and on the Transocean Spitsbergen rig to ensure that the facility can be operated prudently during normal operations and in the event of hazard and accident situations.

Furthermore, corrective measures shall be implemented, so that, the manning and competence available are sufficient for ensuring that use of the facility is at all times compliant with its technical condition and the prerequisites for use defined for prudent activities, including notably being able to identify and address barrier weaknesses.

Implement systematic follow-up of safety-critical barrier elements

The safety regulator further ordered the company to be aware of which barriers have been established and the function they safeguard, as well as the performance requirements defined for the specific technical, operational or organisational barrier elements necessary for the effectiveness of the individual barrier.

Additionally, the PSA added that corrective measures – such as systematic follow-up, which contributes to identifying and correcting technical, operational and organisational weaknesses, errors and deficiencies in safety-critical barrier elements – shall also be implemented. This also entails the obligation to ensure necessary oversight and control of the technical condition.

Schedule with adopted measures for parts 1 & 2 to be provided

Transocean has been ordered by the PSA to present a schedule with detailed measures adopted to address parts 1 and 2, including a description of any compensatory measures implemented until nonconformities have been rectified.

The Petroleum Safety Authority also added that it needs to be notified when the order has been carried out, adding that the deadline for complying with part 1 of the order is set at 2 May 2022, with part 2 at 17 October 2022 and with part 3 at 2 March 2022.

To remind, Equinor exercised two one-well options in Norway for the Transocean Spitsbergen rig earlier this year.

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Under these options, the rig will work for Equinor from June 2022 until September 2022 with a day rate of $290,000.