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Dolphin charter terminated

May 23, 2002, 17:00 CEST

A charter with rig contractor Dolphin for the Byford Dolphin drilling unit has been terminated by Statoil.

“Safety on this rig does not meet contractual requirements, and new measures adopted after a fatal accident on 17 April have not been satisfactorily followed up,” says Henrik Carlsen, executive vice president for Exploration & Production Norway.

Although the termination takes effect immediately, operations on Byford Dolphin will be wound down in a safe way. The charter originally ran until 8 October.

The rig was working on Esso’s Sigyn discovery in the Norwegian North Sea when a 44-year-old man died. Statoil is drilling on behalf of Esso because Sigyn will be tied back to its Sleipner East field.

An investigation launched by Statoil after the accident has now reported.

It identified the direct cause of the incident as a spool piece weighing almost 200 kilograms falling through a hole in the drill floor onto a working platform nearly 14 metres below.

The accident was triggered by the hole in the drill floor being inadequately secured.

However, the report concluded that the underlying factors included inadequate planning, insufficient understanding of risk, and failure to ensure that procedures were observed.

In addition, communication on the rig relating to work being carried out was deficient.

After the accident, Statoil, Esso and Dolphin agreed to implement a number of immediate measures in order to bring the rig back into work. Byford Dolphin was shut down for seven days.

“Safety has a high priority in Statoil, but our investigation shows that we failed to live up to our own targets on this occasion,” says Mr Carlsen.

“The accident will have consequences for the supervision of our operations on drilling units.”

He emphasises that Statoil has now implemented a number of in-house measures. The drilling superintendent function will be strengthened and rig supervision better coordinated, for instance.

Supervisors will also devote more time and energy to practical efforts relating to health, safety and the environment out on the rigs.