Saipem slapped with regulatory order for semi-sub rig after audit finds ‘serious’ breaches

Norwegian offshore safety regulator has carried out an audit of Saipem focused on the management of the working environment and operations in the drilling areas on a semi-submersible rig working on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS), and followed it up with an order.

Scarabeo 8 rig; Source: Vår Energi

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) recently issued an order to Saipem, following an audit of Saipem conducted from 19 to 26 January 2023 and focused on the management of the working environment and operations in the drilling areas on the Scarabeo 8 rig. Based on the PSA’s report, “serious regulatory breaches” have been identified, and Saipem has now been given an order.

According to the offshore safety watchdog, the objective of the audit was to verify that Saipem’s management of the working environment and operations in the drilling areas on Scarabeo 8 complied with the regulatory requirements. Moreover, observations from previous audits within the working environment and drilling were followed up.

While conducting its investigation, the PSA identified several breaches of the regulations. The ten nonconformities that the regulator found comprise nonconformity handling, lack of assessment of different technical and organisational solutions to avoid harmful exposure and strain, management of the risk of musculoskeletal disorders, along with management of the psychosocial working environment.

Additionally, the identified nonconformities cover management of chemical health hazards, management of noise and hand/arm vibrations, personal protective equipment, employee participation, joint, local working environment committee (FS-AMU), and maintenance/systems. Aside from this, the Norwegian regulator observed two factors it categorised as improvement points, concerning ventilation and indoor climate and functional testing of the blowout preventer (BOP).

During the audit, the PSA also verified how Saipem had addressed certain previously identified nonconformities. As a result, the regulator found out that nonconformity handling from the report following the audit of barriers and maintenance management for electrical facilities, safety instrumented systems and drilling-related systems on Scarabeo 8 (23 June 2022) had not been addressed in line with the company’s feedback of 23 September 2022 and 16 November 2022.

On that basis, Saipem has been ordered to review the company’s management system for the working environment, which is intended to safeguard competence, surveys, risk assessments, the rectification of faults and deficiencies, and improvements. The work should include an analysis of the underlying causes of identified deficiencies related to the management of the working environment within Saipem.

In addition, Saipem has been ordered to implement necessary improvement measures systemically within the company based on the PSA’s review and analysis. The Petroleum Safety Authority confirmed that the deadline for complying with the order is 31 August 2023.

“We are to be notified when the order has been carried out. A time-delimited schedule for complying with the order shall be sent to the PSA by 28 April 2023. The schedule shall describe how this work is to be performed and followed up,” explained the regulator.

The Scarabeo 8 rig is working for Aker BP in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea after getting a three-year deal, worth $325 million, in March 2022. This is a sixth-generation dual derrick deepwater semi-submersible drilling rig capable of working in harsh environments with a dynamic positioning system and enhanced mooring capabilities. This rig can accommodate 140 people and its maximum drilling depth is 35,000 ft.