Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) will be investigating a recent potentially serious situation on the Scarabeo 8 drilling rig in the Barents Sea.
At about 15:00 on 4 September, the Saipem-owned semi-submersible facility developed a 5.7-degree list after its ballast tank took on water. It is currently conducting exploration drilling on well 7220/10 for Eni Norge.
140 people on the rig mustered ready to go to the lifeboats 200 kilometres off Hammerfest following the triggering of an alarm. The incident was over about one hour later, but several personnel told their SAFE union representative they were very concerned.
1980 was the year of the Alexander Kielland tragedy and sister rig the Henrik Ibsen’s 20-degree tilt. Two years later, the Ocean Ranger sank off Canada.
Ketil Karlsen, head of offshore HSE at Industry Energi (Industry Energy) told Stavanger Aftenbladet last week, “Resources for those who must come and pick us up are very different compared with those for the North Sea. Our concern grows the farther west and north activity is moved.”
The PSA had told unions the Scarabeo 8 incident was the operator’s responsibility. Officials previously discounted stepping in, even though they had found several faults on the rig, which included the ballast valves.
“We don’t automatically investigate an incident. We investigate the most serious incidents, but have not concluded yet whether to initiate our own investigation into this particular one,” declared PSA spokesperson Øyvind Midttun, but informing the paper that they would be following closely.
Today, however, the oil safety watchdog says it has decided to act and launch an audit following meetings about the course of events and further actions with Eni and Saipem.
“Preliminary findings indicate that the incident was caused by incorrect operation of equipment. he incident did not entail major accident risk; however, the PSA takes a serious view of what happened,” officials write in a statement. “The investigation will focus on Saipem’s management of capacity and competence.”
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