PSA slaps Statoil with safety order over near-fatal Sture gas leak

The Norwegian offshore safety watchdog, the Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA), has issued an order to Statoil following a poisonous H2S gas leak at the Sture terminal on October 12, 2016.

The Sture terminal in Øygarden municipality in Hordaland is a port for crude oil shipments. It receives crude oil and condensate from the Oseberg area through an 115-kilometer oil pipeline and crude oil from the Grane and Edvard Grieg field through a 212-kilometer oil pipeline.

The gas leak occurred during work on a hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas reactor in the cleaning facility for oily water, affecting five people. All of them were hospitalized, four released after one day and one after three days.

During an investigation, the PSA said the accident could have been fatal under slightly different conditions. The safety body said that the dispersion analysis showed that the personnel was exposed to potentially fatal concentrations of the gas.

Also, several regulatory breaches were found, including deficient management of activities, resources, processes, and competence as well as deficiencies in the management and execution of emergency response actions.

Regarding its findings, the PSA gave the Sture facility operator, Statoil, a notification of order on February 16, 2017.

On Monday, the safety body issued an order to Statoil charging it to make the necessary measures to ensure that activities which could expose personnel to harmful concentrations of H2S or other noxious substances at Sture can be conducted in an acceptable manner.

The PSA added that the effects of the measures taken must be verified.

To clarify, an order is an administrative decision and a strongly preventive instrument which is legally binding on the recipient, in this case, Statoil. Before the PSA issues an order, it usually sends a notice of order to the affected companies which is neither an instrument nor a notice of sanctions.

The Petroleum Safety Authority has set a deadline of June 1, 2017, for complying with the order. Furthermore, the PSA must be notified when the order has been complied with.

Offshore Energy Today Staff