Lifeboat problems impose shutdown

person by Trude Meland, Norwegian Petroleum Museum
The freefall lifeboats on Draugen created problems when it transpired that their superstructure was unable to cope with the stresses experienced when being launched into the sea.
— New lifeboats are installed. Photo: Shadé Barka Martins/Norwegian Petroleum Museum
© Norsk Oljemuseum

When the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) became aware of the problems, it ordered Norske Shell to cease Draugen production and told Statoil to shut down Snorre A. Both companies had applied to remain on stream with a minimum workforce. The PSA also received exemption requests for six other facilities on the NCS with the same type of lifeboat. These were Statoil’s Troll A and Heidrun platforms and the Oseberg C, Brage, Troll B and Njord A installations operated by Norsk Hydro.

The applications for Draugen and Snorre A were rejected, but the operators opted to stay on stream – to the surprise of the PSA, which believed output should have ceased immediately. Exemptions were given to the other six facilities because their lifeboats could also be lowered manually. Extra requirements were also imposed.

In addition to a dedicated standby vessel, these included increased helicopter availability, expanded radar coverage and plans to shut down in bad weather.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Petroleum Safety Authority Norway, 13 October 2006, 13, “Ptil pålegger stans på Snorre A og Draugen”. Downloaded from http://www.ptil.no/nyheter/ptil-palegger-stans-pa-snorre-a-og-draugen-article2906-702.html
The exemption applications for Draugen and Snorre A had not included lowering the lifeboats as an alternative. In the PSA’s view, compensatory measures for evacuation from these facilities were insufficient to achieve acceptable safety.
Shell had no option but to shut down Draugen and send its personnel ashore. Thirty-eight people remained on board while the lifeboats were reinforced to cope with a freefall launch.

The operator was less than pleased with the PSA order. While the regulator had initially approved the lifeboats, the initiative to upgrade them came from the industry itself.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Adresseavisen, 14 October 2006, “Måtte stenge Draugen”.
Draugen could come back on stream after less than a day when the PSA gave an exemption. Shell had sent it a new application which outlined compensatory measures.

These included a new release mechanism for manual lowering of the lifeboats and intensive training in such launching. The exemption ran until 1 December, when all the lifeboats had to be upgraded.

The shutdown on Snorre A continued.[REMOVE]Fotnote: NTB, 16 October 2006, “Shell har gjenopptatt produksjonen på Draugen”.

Published August 8, 2018   •   Updated October 18, 2018
© Norsk Oljemuseum
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