Hydro measures to sharpen offshore safety

February 8, 2001, 00:00 CET

Hydro very seriously accepts criticism by the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate regarding safety in oil and gas operations offshore Norway. The company has subsequently established a number of rapid response work groups to improve safety within specifically defined areas.

On Dec. 24, 2000, a fatal accident occurred on the Oseberg Øst platform in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea. The worker's death was tragic for relatives and deeply affected Hydro and others affiliated with the company's offshore activities. Despite continual efforts to preserve and enhance safety within Hydro's offshore milieu, sudden accidents with tragic consequences sometimes occur, the company said in a press release coinciding with a press conference yesterday arranged by Hydro representatives in Bergen, Norway.

Since the accident, Hydro has initiated an internal investigation of the incident and implemeted numerous remedial measures. Hydro is also thoroughly evaluating other facets of its offshore activities to identify possible weaknesses and to improve safety policies and management behaviour.

On Jan. 23, 2001, Hydro received the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate's (NPD) report regarding the accident and a letter demanding safety reforms. Hydro replied on Feb. 8. According to Hydro's interpretation, the NPD has identified numerous key areas requiring immediate attention to ensure better safety controls.

Hydro emphasizes safety as its first priority throughout the entire organization. Hydro accepts the NPD's criticism with utmost seriousness and has taken steps to considerably sharpen its safety practices. Preparations within areas indicated by the NPD are underway.

Rapid-response work groups
Hydro has initiated seven rapid-response work groups that will address improving safety within the following areas: Safety control in drilling environments; best practice for lifting operations; platform management participation in safety endeavors; independent evaluation and risk-assessment of Oseberg Øst (Scanpower); development and enhancement of the SSS safety control system; direct Hydro control of activities on Oseberg Øst and on other installations; and experience interchanges between the installations.

Recommendations by the groups will be made during the next few months and followed up accordingly.

The executive management in Hydro's Oil and Energy business area have additionally established a rapid-response work group to thoroughly revise safety controls within its Exploration and Production Norway division.

Hydro will keep the NPD updated on the progress of all the remedial measures. It is Hydro's belief that the measures taken will collectively improve safety on Oseberg Øst and other installations operated by the company on the Norwegian continental shelf, the press release asserts.