Regulator finds room for improvement on Gullfaks subsea compression

Norway’s safety watchdog, the Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA), has found improvement points during an audit of Statoil’s subsea compression project on Gullfaks in the Norwegian North Sea.

PSA said on Friday that the improvement points were found relating to remits, authorities, and division of responsibilities. No regulatory non-conformities were identified during the audit.

The main Gullfaks field lies in block 34/10 in the northern part of the Norwegian North Sea. It was developed with three large concrete production platforms. The Gullfaks A platform began production on December 22, 1986, with Gullfaks B following on February 29, 1988, and the C platform on November 4, 1989.

In 2015, Statoil began operation of a subsea facility for compression of wet gas from Gullfaks Sør. The gas is transported through a 15-kilometer-long pipeline to Gullfaks C for processing.

The facility is the first of its kind in the world and it helps maintain production thereby increasing the field’s utilization rate.

The subsea system is controlled from Gullfaks C using a control cable on the seabed. This cable carries electrical power, signals, and chemicals through a shared outer sleeve.

The aim was for the PSA to carry out an audit of Statoil’s follow-up of a chemical spill incident involving the control cable. Also, the audit looked at the design engineering and manufacture of a new control cable as well as Statoil’s management of the supplier and lessons learned from the incident.

The audit was conducted in the form of meetings on November 17, 2016, at Statoil in Bergen and the supplier Nexans in Halden on December 1, 2016.

Statoil was informed by the PSA to report on how the improvement points would be assessed by February 7, 2017.

The Gullfaks field saw two incidents occur last year. In October, Statoil had to temporarily shut down production from its Gullfaks A platform after a gas alarm had sounded. In November, an alarm went off again on the Gullfaks A platform after smoke was spotted coming out of a fan room.