Standing by accident findings

April 16, 2004, 20:00 CEST

Statoil stands by the findings of its internal inquiry into a fatal accident on the Byford Dolphin drilling rig two years ago, executive vice president Henrik Carlsen has reiterated.

His affirmation follows renewed interest being shown by the Norwegian media in the sequence of events leading up to the fatality.

Mr Carlsen points out that the police and the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) came to the same conclusion as the internal investigation.

Both Statoil and the NPD found that the death was caused when a length of pipe fell through the mouse hole next to the rotary table.

“I can’t see that new facts have emerged which suggest that the content and conclusions of the inquiry report are wrong,” says Mr Carlsen.

He emphasises that claims about a different sequence of events have appeared in the media before, and prompted a reassessment of the report. But its findings remained unchanged.

And he points out that Statoil’s accident investigation was independent of the inquiries pursued by the NPD and the police. But all three came to the same conclusion.

Oddvar Haugvaldstad, deputy chair of the Statoil branch of the Norwegian Oil and Petrochemical Workers Union (Nopef), has repeated his earlier claims.

“I disagree with the description of the sequence of events in the report, and believe the pipe fell through a larger hole in the deck.

“That view is based on witness statements from personnel on the cellar deck who contacted me after the accident. Their evidence isn’t included in the inquiry report.”

“This accident should never have happened,” says Mr Carlsen. “Measures recommended by the inquiry team and implemented after the accident would remain the same even if the pipe had fallen through a different hole than the one identified.”

He says it is important to draw lessons from the incident and from the doubts expressed about the inquiry, and plans to hold an in-house discussion on routines for such investigations.

This will aim to ensure that possible witness statements which depart from other oral evidence are included in the inquiry report.