Statfjord B platform; Credit: Harald Pettersen/Equinor

Probe into incident on North Sea platform underway after worker suffers ‘facial injuries’

Norwegian offshore safety regulator has launched an investigation into an incident, which resulted in an injury, on an Equinor-operated platform in the North Sea, located on one of the oldest producing fields on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS).

Statfjord B platform; Credit: Harald Pettersen/Equinor

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) reported last week that it had opened an investigation into an incident, which occurred on the Statfjord B platform on 22 April 2023, when the clamps/blind hub were being removed from new production tubing.

The offshore safety watchdog explained that the bolts were loosened during the operation while the tubing still contained gas under pressure. After the energy released caused one of the workers to be hit by components and suffer “facial injuries,” the person received help before being flown ashore for further treatment.

According to the PSA, the blind hub – weighing 34 kilograms – was thrown about 1.5 metres into the air before descending and injuring the worker while a sealing ring also fell to an underlying level, where it grazed a person’s arm. The regulator underlines that the weight of this ring is so far unknown.

Furthermore, the hydrocarbons released activated two gas detectors, leading to a general alarm and mustering in accordance with instructions. In addition, automatic shutdown of the facility was instituted, and the second-line response mustered.

The Norwegian regulator outlines that it takes “a serious view of this incident,” thus, an investigation team consisting of members from its specialist personnel is starting work now while the PSA will also be supporting the police inquiry.

The main objectives of the regulator’s investigation are to identify the causes of the incident and possible lessons learnt and to share this information with the industry. In conducting its investigation, the PSA will clarify the course of events and the scope of the incident, assess its actual and potential consequences, and assess its direct and underlying causes.

Additionally, the offshore safety watchdog will identify nonconformities and improvement points related to the regulations, apply necessary enforcement powers to correct possible regulatory breaches, make public its findings, and contribute to experience transfer to and learning by other players in the petroleum sector.

This incident comes after the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway issued an order to Equinor in February 2023, following an investigation of gas leaks on the Statfjord B platform from 23 May 2022. The Statfjord B platform stands on the Equinor-operated Statfjord field, which is located in the Tampen area in the northern part of the North Sea on the border between the Norwegian and British sectors.

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According to Equinor, Statfjord is one of the oldest producing fields on the Norwegian continental shelf and the largest oil discovery in the North Sea. The Norwegian share of the field is 85.47 per cent and the water depth at the site is 150 metres. Discovered in 1974, the Statfjord field has been developed with three fully integrated production platforms: Statfjord AStatfjord B, and Statfjord C.

Statfjord B in the southern part of the field came into production in 1982 and the Norwegian share of the field lies in blocks 33/9 and 33/12 in production licence 037, while the British part is in UK block 211/25 in licences 104 and 293.