Fewer gas leaks last year

May 6, 2005, 10:00 CEST

The number of serious gas leaks from Statoil-operated installations on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) more than halved from 2002 to 2004.

A newly-published internal report covering the 1996-2004 period concludes that results were generally speaking very good last year.

Serious leaks – involving more than 100 grams of hydrocarbons per second and reportable to the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway – declined from 27 in 2002 to 12.

The latter figure is the lowest for the period in relation to the level of activity.

Eleven Statoil-operated installations experienced no serious leaks last year. The report also embraces the Kollsnes gas processing plant near Bergen.

“We’re involved in a Norwegian Oil Industry Association (OLF) gas leak project,” explains Dag Petter Berg, platform manager for Sleipner A and Statoil’s representative in this programme.

“The aim has been to halve the number of leaks larger than 100 grams per second by the end of 2005, but that target was already achieved with last year’s result.

“Our challenge for the future will be to reduce the number of escapes even closer to zero.”

Statoil has launched a number of initiatives aimed at combating oil and gas leaks, including measures on individual installations after earlier incidents have been investigated.

In addition comes the OLF project to reduce leak events, while attention is being focused through the safe behaviour programme on encouraging individuals to act in an appropriate, safe manner.

The declining trend for gas leaks has been welcomed as a positive development by Geir Pettersen, senior vice president for safety.

“This has long been a priority area, so the decrease is a fine acknowledgement of the purposeful efforts devoted by the organisation to achieving it.

“However, accuracy and alertness must continue to be given top attention if we are to reduce the number of incidents even further.”

The report nevertheless emphasises that the gas leak on the Snorre A platform last November makes it difficult to conclude that 2004 was a good year.

That incident is also described as the most serious in the 1996-2004 period.

According to the report, the leading cause of gas leaks is “deficient quality control/verification of work done”, which in turn comes down to human error.

The underlying causes are primarily “working practices” and “organisation of the work", which in turn lead to equipment failures and erroneous behaviour by individuals.