Mongstad fire findings

September 8, 2004, 14:45 CEST

The direct cause of the fire at Statoil’s Mongstad refinery near Bergen on 12 July was a flow of hot oil into a steam hose, an internal inquiry has concluded.

This incident occurred during preparations for changing a valve. The wrong valve was closed, so that the system remained pressurised.

When the steam hose fractured, the oil ignited as it came into contact with the air. Two operatives suffered minor injuries in the subsequent fire.

According to the inquiry report, the underlying cause was inadequate planning in several phases of the work and insufficient communication during the operation.

The investigators found no evidence of technical failure in the incident.

“It’s important to draw lessons from this fire,” says Bjørn Kåre Viken, the vice president in charge at Mongstad.

“We’re implementing specific measures, including the recommendations made by the inquiry, to ensure that there is no repetition.”

Such action includes a systematic review of work processes, the preparation of improved hand-over routines, and drawing on this incident to secure the quality of work execution.

Mr Viken praises the job done by the refinery’s emergency response organisation on 12 July, when it extinguished the fire with the help of public emergency services.

The report from Statoil’s inquiry team will be submitted to the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway and the police.

With the refinery out of operation for about 14 days as a result of the fire, the cost of lost production and damage came to roughly NOK 100 million.