Photo: Illustration; Source: Equinor

‘We are not where we need to be’ regarding safety, Equinor CEO says

Although Equinor experienced several serious incidents throughout the year, it was able to achieve a reduction in the number of serious incidents and personal injuries in 2020 compared to the previous year.

The results support a good trend in safety performance during the last decade, but also demonstrate the need to further improve our safety work.

Anders Opedal, CEO of Equinor, said: “Fires and other serious incidents in 2020 demonstrate that we are not where we need to be in terms of our safety work.

We will therefore strengthen this work further to run our operations at an even higher safety level. The progress we see in the number of incidents and personal injuries indicates that we are working on the right measures across the company, and that inspires us in the work ahead”.

According to the 2020 safety statistics of incidents and personal injuries in Equinor, the general development continues in the right direction, both in terms of serious incidents and personal injuries. Last year, the average serious incident frequency per million hours worked (SIF) dropped from 0.6 in 2019 to 0.5. The total recordable injury frequency per million hours worked (TRIF) was reduced from 2.5 to 2.3.

The number of hydrocarbon leaks at onshore plants and offshore installations went up from 10 in 2019 to 11 last year.

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We can be motivated by the results and improvements we achieve over time. However, we must understand risk better and demonstrate that we learn from earlier incidents by avoiding new incidents. Only then will we succeed in taking our safety work to the next level”, Opedal added.

In the fourth quarter of 2020, a total of 15 serious incidents and near-misses were recorded in the company. Hydrocarbon leaks, dropped objects, personal injuries and incidents involving processing and production equipment are examples from the last three months of last year.

Two serious fires at onshore plants, at Melkøya in September and at Tjeldbergodden in December, are still under investigation. Reports of these incidents are expected to be completed in the first quarter. A total of 67 serious incidents and near misses were recorded in 2020 in Equinor.

Enhancing safety to avoid major accidents

Opedal also noted that Equinor has started the implementation of the “I am safety” which aims to create a safe workplace for everyone and culture for speaking out.

Anders Opedal; Source: Equinor
Anders Opedal; Source: Equinor

We are also establishing a project on process safety to further enhance our understanding of risk, compliance and competence to operate our installations, both onshore and offshore, even more safely and avoid major accidents also in the future”, he stated.

The purpose of the project is to learn about process safety from other industry players by introducing external expertise. Specific recommendations will be incorporated into existing improvement initiatives.

Cooperation across companies

In 2021, Equinor continues its cooperation on safety in areas where suppliers and operators share experiences. Several companies are currently part of the web-based safety cooperation initiative Always Safe that was established by Equinor, Aker BP and Vår Energi.

Worth noting, corporate employee representatives Per M. Labråthen from IndustriEnergy, Bjørn Asle Teige from SAFE, Stig Lægreid from NITO, Lars Olav Grøvik of Tekma, and Hallstein Tonning from Lederne said in a mutual statement: “The serious incidents we have experienced show that we need to improve the safety level. We must also work on the issues that the PSA and the PwC report have addressed, and we must together be prepared to follow up additional measures that may be required as a result of the investigation reports presented in the spring”.

To remind, Norway’s offshore safety authority has found deficiencies in Equinor’s management of manning and competence on about two-thirds of its exploration and production activities.

The offshore watchdog in mid-December stated that a number of audits carried out by the Petroleum Safety Authority in 2019-20 identified deficiencies related to Equinor’s management of manning and/or expertise in its Norwegian offshore operations, according to a Tuesday report by the offshore safety watchdog.