Probe into Gas Leaks on Statfjord B Platform Reveals "Serious breaches of regulations"

Statfjord B - Credit: Harald Pettersen/Equinor
Statfjord B - Credit: Harald Pettersen/Equinor

The Norwegian offshore oil and gas safety regulator PSA Norway has ordered Equinor to ensure maintenance of hydrocarbon pipes in carbon steel on the Statfjord B platform after a probe into May 2022 gas leaks found what the PSA said were serious breaches of regulations.

Two leaks occurred on Monday, May 23, 2022, on the Equinor-operated Statfjord B platform, in the North Sea, off Norway, at one of the oldest producing fields in Norway.

The incident occurred in connection with running up after a turnaround. The leaks came from holes in two pipelines used for blowdown/pressure relief in process area M10T.

According to the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway, these leaks are estimated to have had initial rates of 0.52 and 0.57 kilograms per second, respectively, with a total emission of about 285 kilograms of export gas.

No Injuries, but...

According to the safety watchdog, while nobody was injured and no significant material damage occurred on the platform, causing a delay of just under two days in restarting the facility, under different circumstances, the gas leaks could have had greater consequences and lives might have been lost.

The direct cause of the leaks was external corrosion and consequent loss of integrity. Both pipes were probably corroded through before the incident occurred, the PSA said.

"Underlying causes are complex, with failure to carry out maintenance as a crucial factor," the PSA said.

"The investigation shows that this incident could have been avoided if Equinor had established a robust system for following up and maintaining control of the integrity of the blowdown lines," the PSA added.

Serious Breaches

The investigation has identified "serious breaches of the regulations," and Equinor has been ordered to "ensure maintenance of hydrocarbon pipes in carbon steel on Statfjord B so that they are able to perform their demanding functions in all phases of production life." The deadline for meeting the order us June 1, 2023.

Further, the oil firm has been ordered to verify for all of its facilities and land plants that the maintenance program for hydrocarbon pipes in carbon steel contains activities for monitoring performance and technical condition to ensure that failure modes which are under development or have arisen as a result of external corrosion are identified and corrected. The deadline for this is December 31, 2023.

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