PSA Norway finds safety issues during Valhall audit

Norwegian offshore safety watchdog, the Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA), has found irregularities during an audit of drilling operations on Aker BP’s Valhall field.

PSA said on Friday that the audit, conducted between November 21 and December 6, 2018, looked at how Aker BP, drilling contractor Archer, and the subcontractors planned and executed drilling and well operations for the Valhall IP water injection platform.

Vallhall IP, which entered service in 2002, was originally a water injection platform, but today both production and injection wells are drilled from the platform. This has led to a change in risk and barrier management.

The offshore safety regulator said that the objective of the audit was to monitor how the companies, together with subcontractors, met the regulatory requirements for planning, risk assessment, and execution of drilling and well operations as well as following up the requirements for managing major accident risk.

During the audit, the PSA placed particular emphasis on how decision support, criteria, and processes, as well as risk assessments, are established and implemented to safeguard well integrity and ensure robust operations.

“This audit is part of a series of audits of operators, drilling contractors and service companies on the Norwegian Continental Shelf. Important rationales for the audits are incidents, experiences from prior audits and investigations, and whistleblowing concerning drilling and well activities in the petroleum industry,” the PSA said.

Three regulatory non-conformities were identified during the audit. Namely, the PSA found deficient establishment of a barrier management system for Valhall that matches actual conditions on the platform, deficiencies in performance of functional testing of blow out preventer (BOP) and non-conformity in closing time of BOP shear ram, and deficiencies in well control training and exercises.

The safety watchdog also found four improvement points regarding the lack of specific detailed measures in the event of planned weakness in the primary barrier during drilling into the reservoir, lack of well control procedures in the event of a major loss during drilling in the reservoir section, deficiencies in well design and well integrity, and lack of documentation of BOP shear capacity on the drill floor.

The PSA told Aker BP to report on how the non-conformities would be addressed by March 1, 2019. The safety body also requested for feedback that assesses the improvement points observed.

The Valhall field is in the southern part of the Norwegian sector of the North Sea and is operated by Aker BP. The field began production in 1982 and comprises a field center with six platforms and two unmanned flank platforms.