* Gullfaks C platform evacuated in May and shut for 2 months
* Statoil says will intensify efforts to prevent incidents
* Green group to report Statoil to police
By Gwladys Fouche
OSLO, Nov 19 Only luck prevented a well incident
earlier this year at a Statoil-operated (STL.OL) platform in the
North Sea from becoming a major accident, the Norwegian oil
safety watchdog said on Friday.
The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) described as
"very serious" an incident in May that caused an evacuation of
the platform after changes in well pressure led to a fault on
one of two valves designed to prevent a blowout.
The PSA's report comes as Statoil and Norway's oil industry
campaign to allow oil and gas exploration off a pristine
archipelago in Norway's Arctic, in the face of criticism from
green groups and some political parties. [ID:nLDE66S0U5]
Production at Gullfaks only resumed in mid-July after
Statoil installed three cement plugs and one mechanical plug in
the faulty well. [ID:nLDE64K06F] [ID:nLDE66D1GL]
"Only chance averted a sub-surface blowout and/or explosion,
and prevented the incident from developing into a major
accident," the PSA said in a statement.
The watchdog said it had identified "serious deficiencies"
in the way Statoil planned the drilling of the well and in the
management checks done to ensure the work was properly done.
"These (deficiencies) concerned such key factors as risk
management and change control, experience transfer and use of
expertise, knowledge of and compliance with governing documents,
and documentation of decisions," it said.
The watchdog also asked Statoil to hold an independent
assessment of why measures adopted after a 2004 gas blowout at
the Snorre platform had not had the desired effects on Gullfaks.
It said both incidents held "similar causes".
The watchdog's conclusions come two weeks after Statoil's
own inquiry of the incident, which the firm described as
"serious", and four days after it suspended drilling operations
at all three Gullfaks platforms to review work routines.
On Friday, Statoil repeated it would learn the lessons from
the events at Gullfaks C, which it said showed the need "to
intensify our efforts in order to prevent serious incidents".
"The PSA report ... points out that the underlying causes
should be more closely looked into," said Oeystein Michelsen,
Statoil's head of exploration and production in Norway.
"These considerations will be taken into account in our
continuing incident follow-up efforts," he said in a statement.
Norwegian green group Bellona said it would report Statoil
to the police for alleged violations of rules at Gullfaks C.
(Editing by Keiron Henderson)