Pipeline accident inquiry

January 18, 1999, 14:40 CET

An internal inquiry has been launched by Statoil after an incident with a gas pipeline at the Kårstø gas treatment plant on 16 January.

The line, which carries gas for flaring at the complex north of Stavanger, came off its foundation when a power cut required large quantities of gas from the process facilities to be flared off.

Some movement in the pipeline system because of the big forces involved in such an operation is normal, but on this occasion the line was shaken from its foundation.

"The personnel on duty responded professionally to the incident," reports vice president Brian Bjordal at Kårstø.

Subsequent X-rays showed that the pipeline had not been weakened, and it could simply be lifted back into place on the concrete supports. However, the latter will be further reinforced over the next few days.

The inquiry team will review the incident and earlier experience with pressure relief through this system in order to clarify the causes of the displacement and to come up with improvements which can prevent a repetition.

Management and workers at Kårstø are concerned to maintain a high level of safety and to ensure good regularity for gas deliveries to continental Europe.

Two of the three processing trains were brought back on line during Sunday, while the third will resume operation as soon as the pipeline supports have been reinforced.

The loss of production from Kårstø has largely been compensated by increasing output from the Troll gas treatment plant at Kollsnes near Bergen, and by drawing on stocks in the Etzel gas store near Emden in Germany.