UPDATE: According to Reuters, Statoil restarted production at Gullfaks B, as of 2 May, following a helicopter crash that killed 13 people.
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Statoil has released the names of several offshore workers who died on Friday, when the helicopter they were traveling in crashed on land outside Turøy in Fjell municipality outside Bergen.
The helicopter was transporting workers from the Gullfaks B platform offshore Norway, to Bergen. The Norwegian oil giant has described the crash as: "One of the most severe helicopter accidents in the history of the Norwegian oil industry."
Ole Magnar Kvamme, 60, was an electrical engineer who had been with Statoil since 1988. In addition to Kvamme, seven members of the flight have been named: Arild Fossedal and Odd Geir Turøy (Aker Solutions), Michele Vimercati (CHC), Iain Stuart, Behnam Ahmadi and Otto Mikal Vasstveit (Halliburton) and Kjetil Wathne (Karsten Moholt AS).
Friday, 29 April:
Production at Gullfaks B was shut down after it was confirmed all 13 people onboard the CHC-operated Airbus (formerly Eurocopter) EC225 Super Puma helicopter, which was working for Norwegian oil giant Statoil, had been killed. Gullfaks is one of the largest producing fields on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.
In a statement released at 4.30pm CST, 29 April, Statoil confirmed that the 11 people who died in the crash worked for Halliburton, Aker Solutions, Schlumberger, Welltec, Karsten Moholt and Statoil. Two pilots, employed by CHC, also died.
“Today, we have been hit by a terrible tragedy, one of the most severe helicopter accidents in the history of the Norwegian oil industry," said Arne Sigve Nylund, Statoil executive VP of development and production, Norway. "It is with great sorrow we have received the message that 13 people have been involved in this accident. More than anything, our thoughts are now with those who have lost their loved ones, and an entire industry extends its sympathy to them.
"We will now do everything we can to give them our support and assistance. The deceased were employed in different companies, but they were all on a mission for Statoil,” he said.
Eyewitnesses reported seeing one of the Super Puma's blades come off before it crashed. Statoil, which operates Gullfaks, mobilized its emergency response team. The oil major grounded all other helicopters of the same type, as did BP and Shell, with both UK and Norwegian Civil Aviation Authorities imposing a ban on the unit's use in commercial passenger flights. Airbus also recommended a temporary blanket ban, but 2 May lifted the recommendation.
Statoil said it was informed of the incident at 12.20pm (29 April). A rescue operation was led and coordinated by a rescue coordination center, and Statoil provided additional resources.
According to Bloomberg, a news agency, most of the victims were Norwegian, with one Britain and one Italian, Bloomberg said.
According to Reuters, CHC has said there had been no emergency calls from pilots before the crash and it has also confirmed the same helicopter had returned to base twice last week due to a warning light. However, after parts were replaced the light went off. Neither part was related to the gearbox or rotor.
The last fatal helicopter incident offshore Norway was in 1997, when a Super Puma helicopter on its way to the Norne field crashed in the Norwegian Sea killing all 12 onboard. Investigations have revealed fatigue cracking in the right-hand input shaft pin in the helicopter’s main gear box.
In the UK, helicopter flights were suspended in 2013, after four people were killed when a Super Puma carrying 16 people crashed close to the Shetland Islands. Just four years earlier, in 2009, 16 men lost their lives when another Super Puma on its way back from BP's Miller platform, crashed.
The Gullfaks field is in block 34/10 in the northern part of the Norwegian North Sea. It was developed with three large concrete production platforms, A, B and C.
Gullfaks A platform started production in 1986, with Gullfaks B following in 1988 and C platform in 1989.