By ALEXIS FLYNN
BP has been ordered to take immediate steps to address a
number of "serious breaches" of regulations in connection with
a fire on its Valhall platform last year, Norway's offshore
safety authority said Thursday.
The Petroleum Safety Authority said the July 13 fire involved
the breakdown of a crane engine due to overheating, which led
to a fire in the vent stack of the platform's compressors.
The blaze led to production at the 40,000 bpd field shutting
down for more than two months.
"Overheating combined with a defective spark arrestor and
silencer meant that red-hot particles leaving the exhaust pipe
blew across and ignited flammable gases from the vent stack,"
the regulator said in a statement.
No people were injured in the incident, although the safety
body said that under slightly different circumstances it could
have escalated and led to the loss of life.
The findings once again put the UK energy giant's record under
the spotlight nearly two years after a rig leased by BP
exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 men and leading to
the worst offshore oil spill in US history.
That incident followed a blast at its Texas City refinery in 2005 that resulted in
the deaths of 15 workers.
Chief executive Bob Dudley has sought to put safety at the
core of the company's operations since then, but incidents like
Valhall risk undermining claims that BP is indeed implementing
"The PSA's investigation of the incident has identified a
number of serious breaches of the regulations related to BP's
management system," the agency said.
"These relate to lack of maintenance, deficient maintenance management, inadequacies
in risk identification and deficient barrier management,
BP has been given until Feb. 1 to provide a plan for addressing
the faults on the installation identified by the PSA, with work
to be completed by July 1.
However, the regulator doesn't intend to recommend the
matter for police investigation, said PSA spokesman Oyvind
Midttun. The company would only be liable for sanctions or
fines if the PSA passed the case on to Norway's judicial
BP said the PSA's report confirmed its own investigation's
finding that the crane was the source of the overheating.
"We have made a number of corrections to make sure that the
facility is upgraded," said BP spokesman Jan Erik Geirmo. "We
are committed to learning from incidents such as this and to
improving our performance," he added.
Dow Jones Newswires