Shell slapped with safety improvement notice after North Sea gas leak

Oil major Royal Dutch Shell has been served with an improvement notice by the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) over last year’s hydrocarbon leak on the company’s unmanned installation in the UK sector of the North Sea. 

Following a gas leak on Shell’s Caravel, a fixed, normally-unattended installation (NUI), at the end of 2015, the HSE issued the improvement notice to the oil company detailing the company’s failings that, according to the agency, risked injury from fire and/or explosion to the workers present at the time.

According to the HSE’s notice, the investigation is still ongoing and Shell has until August 1, 2016 to comply with the improvement notice.

The notice states that Shell failed to implement an Integrated Safe System of Work (ISSOW) control of work management system that requires the company to make a risk assessment for non-routine tasks where the nature and scale of the risk arising from the work to be carried out requires the company to identify and implement suitable risk control measures.

In the notice, the HSE explained that on 1st January 2016 while investigating a hydrocarbon gas leak, Shell’s walk to work campaign employees undertook the non-routine task of venting hydrocarbon gas at a pressure of 53 bar(g) that was contained within the wellhead of well 102, without undertaking a risk assessment to identify the risk controls that should have been used to prevent the uncontrolled release of hydrocarbon gas from a leak point which occurred following the locally controlled actuation of a flow wing valve.

The agency concluded that this release resulted in the formation of a potential gas cloud within approximately 3 metres of 5 workers, thus resulting in risk of their injury from fire and/or explosion.

Offshore Energy Today has reached out to Shell seeking clarification of the HSE notice and inquiring about what that this means for the company’s operations on the Caravel installation.

A Shell spokesperson said: “A gas release was detected on Shell’s Caravel installation on 29th December 2015, the platform was shut down and the leak was isolated. There were no injuries as a result of this incident.

The spokesperson noted that Caravel is a normally unmanned installation in the Southern North Sea and was unmanned at the time of the incident.

“In April 2016 the Health & Safety Executive issued Shell with two Improvement Notices. The matter remains under HSE investigation and we have no further comment at this stage.”

Caravel is tied back to the Shell-operated Corvette field which lies approximately 32 kilometres to the southwest of the Caravel field. From Corvette, gas is exported via the Leman facilities for onward transport to the Shell-operated terminal facilities at Bacton. The development also includes a tie-in of the Shamrock fields to Caravel’s facilities.

Offshore Energy Today Staff

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