Photo: Norne FPSO; Source: Equinor/Credit: Kenneth Engelsvold

Risk and barrier management issues found on Equinor FPSO

Following an audit, Norway’s offshore safety agency has found irregularities related to risk and barrier management on the Equinor’s Norne FPSO located in the Norwegian Sea.

The Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) said in a report on Tuesday that it had carried out an audit of Equinor’s holistic risk and barrier management on the Norne FPSO, especially in relation to stability incidents.

The audit was conducted between 8 and 18 September 2020.

The objective of the audit was to monitor that Equinor has adequately robust risk and barrier management at Norne for handling failure, hazard and accident situations.

“We wanted to verify that, through its efforts to include technical, operational and organisational barrier elements in its barrier management, Equinor has established barrier functions that detect, handle and limit the consequences of maritime incidents at Norne”, the safety authority explained.

In particular, the PSA looked at barrier functions established to manage the risks of stability incidents not caused by ship collisions. It focused attention on the assessment of the level of knowledge and residual risk in respect of such stability incidents.

Equinor needs to address Norne issues

As a result, eight regulatory non-conformities and seven improvement points have been identified on the Equinor-operated Norne FPSO.

The non-conformities included barrier management in the event of loss of stability; establishment of operational and organisational barrier elements, performance requirements and associated training and exercises; planning and prioritisation of observations in the TIMP tool; HMI and alarm handling in the control room; emergency preparedness analysis not updated; capacity and competence; obstacles in emergency exits; assessment of the consequences of the worst credible process fire.

The improvement points included management’s responsibility for following up and ensuring the understanding and use of risk-factor-related information; risk reduction principle; use of risk analysis of stability incidents; involvement of the safety service; the system for ensuring that lifeboats are available at all times; MOB boat training at sea; and updating of DFUs.

The PSA has asked Equinor to report on how the non-conformities will be addressed and for its assessment of the improvement points observed. The deadline is set for 15 December 2020.

Norne field

Equinor is the operator of the Norne field, which is located in production license 128 in the Norwegian Sea, around 300 kilometres west of Sandnessjøen and 200 kilometres from the Helgeland coast.

The field has been developed with a production and storage ship tied to subsea templates. Production from Norne started on 6 November 1997.

It is worth reminding that Equinor established that the resource base in the Norne area may contain enough to produce until the end of 2035.

As a result, Equinor in December 2018 received consent from the Petroleum Safety Authority to extend the operation of the Norne FPSO and associated facilities until the end of 2036.

Furthermore, in February 2019, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) has granted consent to Equinor for the continuation of production on Norne FPSO with associated facilities for the Norne, Urd and Skuld fields in the Norwegian Sea.