Investigation report on gas leak received

March 24, 2011, 15:18 CET

”The main conclusions from the PSA are in keeping with the results from our own investigation of the incident. We have taken this incident very seriously, and a task force with representatives of the executive management, various disciplines, operational organisation and safety delegate service has drafted actions to ensure increased skills and good risk management,” says Øystein Michelsen, Statoil’s executive vice president of Development and Production Norway.


 Øystein Michelsen, executive vice president, Development and production Norway (DPN).

The gas leak occurred in connection with the return of the pipeline after completed maintenance on a choke valve in the Gullfaks B well area. All crew members without emergency tasks assembled in the lifeboats, and the incident was normalised after about two hours. The incident did not cause any permanent injury.

Will respond to the PSA’s questions

In a letter to Statoil the PSA asks about the company’s efforts to follow up improvement processes and to ensure learning from previous incidents. Statoil has been given until 29 April to respond to this.

”We will provide a detailed answer to the PSA. Good and informative contact with public authorities is an important part of our safety work. Safety is, and must always be, the number-one priority in Statoil. The frequency of serious incidents offshore has been more than halved since 2004. However, when an incident like the one at Gullfaks still occurs, it shows that we still have some room for improvement,”  Michelsen says.

Systematic improvement work 

In recent years, Statoil has developed a number of actions to strengthen its HSE work and ensure better learning across the organisation.    

”In 2009 we introduced common work processes offshore in Statoil. This entails that we achieve better and quicker knowledge sharing between the platforms. Increased safety has been one of the main goals of this work,” says Michelsen.

The operative training centre is another example of Statoil’s improvement efforts. Over the past two years more than 5,000 employees have been able to practise realistic operational activities. The coaches train with their teams and participants from other installations. This work promotes organisational learning and helps reduce the potential for major accidents. 

The PSA also refers to the incidents on the Statfjord field in 2007 and 2008, where Statoil had serious incidents involving an oil/gas leak from the utility shaft and an oil leak from the pipeline during loading. The Statfjord platform managers have headed a special training programme that has helped reverse the trend, and in 2010 could point to a good safety performance and no serious incidents.

External evaluation

After the Gullfaks C incident in May 2010 the PSA issued an order to Statoil requiring that an external evaluation of the incident be performed.

“This study will look at root causes within governance, management and other organisational aspects. In addition the study will analyse how Statoil is gathering lessons learned from previous incidents,” Michelsen says.

Statoil presented the company’s investigation report to the media on 16 February. Vice president of Gullfaks operations Gunnar Nakken, and senior vice president of HSE Arild Haugland participated and gave a briefing on Statoil’s gas leak work. The report and presentation from this review are available on:

For more information, contact
Ola Anders Skauby, spokesman
Development and Production Norway
Tel. : +47 905 98 519