March 2, 2024

The Petroleum Safety Authority of Norway (PSA) has ordered Equinor ASA to detail a plan on how the company will remedy barrier safety deficiencies at facilities in the Gullfaks and Visund fields.

The order concerns unaddressed issues from 2020 audit results for the Gullfaks B processing plant and 2021 audit results for the Visund field.

The latest review, conducted May and June 2023, found non-conformity concerning “barrier weaknesses”, the PSA said in a recent report.

It recommended that Equinor, a Norwegian majority state-owned energy giant, make improvements in the identification and follow-up of “operational and organizational barrier elements” and the barrier management of oscillating fire monitors and water pumps.

“We have asked Equinor to report to us on how the non-conformities will be addressed and for their assessment of the improvement points identified”, the agency said. Equinor has until December 21 to report back.

The 2020 report for Gullfaks B, one among several facilities serving the Gullfaks field, focused on efforts at the executive level to prevent major accidents. “Relevant topics were factors relating to overall plans and risk assessments for the use of the facility through its remaining life, assessment of the follow-up of technical condition/asset integrity, maintenance/modifications and operational and organizational measures”, said an official report March 2, 2020, on the assessment done November 2019.

The Visund evaluation, conducted November 2021, focused on comprehensive risk management, maintenance management and barrier management. “The audit identified breaches of the regulations in… planning and prioritization; risk reduction; non-conformity handling maintenance; ignition source control; passive fire protection”, said an official report January 20, 2022.

The Gullfaks oil and gas field, discovered 1978 in the North Sea and first put into production 1986, holds remaining oil reserves of 14.4 million cubic meters (508.53 cubic feet) of oil equivalent from the original 390.5 million cubic meters (13.79 billion cubic feet) of oil equivalent, according to information on the government website Norskpetroleum.no. Gas in the field has already been depleted, according to the information portal.

Gullfaks has three integrated drilling, processing and accommodation facilities, which also provide production and transport services to the Tordis, Vigdis and Visund fields.

Visund, also in the North Sea, has remaining oil reserves of 4.1 million cubic meters (144.79 million cubic feet) and remaining gas reserves of 23.3 million cubic meters (822.83 million cubic feet). It was discovered 1986 and put onstream 1999 with original oil reserves of 42.3 million cubic meters (1.49 billion cubic feet) oil equivalent and original gas reserves of 62.5 million cubic meters (2.21 billion cubic feet) oil equivalent, according to information on Norskpetroleum.no.

Meanwhile in another audit report on Equinor this week, in this case concerning material selection and fabrication, the PSA did not find any non-conformity. “The objective of the audit was to ensure that Equinor works systematically to reduce the likelihood of, and adverse consequences of, defective materials selection and fabrication in the projects”, the authority said.

Equinor’s private competitor Aker BP ASA has also been simultaneously cleared in another audit of anchoring systems in the Alvheim field in the North Sea and the Skarv field in the Norwegian Sea.

However the PSA recommended that Aker BP make improvements concerning SRS models for anchoring, decision procedures on shutdown during extreme weather and, specifically for Alvheim, the detection system for anchor line rupture. The agency also noted “uncertainty about the condition of the anchoring system” in both fields.

To contact the author, email jov.onsat@rigzone.com

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