Offshore Industry: Safety

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 28th January 2015.

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Photo of Alex Cunningham Alex Cunningham Labour, Stockton North

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, which operational installations in the North Sea have a backlog of safety-critical maintenance work; and what the deadlines are for completion of such work in each case.

Photo of Mark Harper Mark Harper Minister of State (Department for Work and Pensions) (Disabled People)

HSE does not collect the data in the form requested. In its latest Safety Report, the trade body Oil and Gas UK reported an average of 170 man hours backlog per installation for December 2013.

All duty holders are required to ensure plant is maintained in an efficient state, efficient working order and in good repair.

In developing its current offshore strategy, HSE consulted widely with operator, contractor and workforce representatives. All identified maintenance backlogs as a significant and persistent issue affecting safety as well as efficient and sustainable production. Inspection of maintenance and asset integrity is a central part of HSE’s offshore intervention strategy. This includes taking enforcement action where duty holders have failed to manage the risk from maintenance backlogs or have failed to identify risks arising from inadequate maintenance.

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Neil Rothnie
Posted on 29 Jan 2015 11:39 am (Report this annotation)

The HSE obviously failed to "identify risks" in relation to well integrity on oil company Total's Elgin platform. Subsequently, three years ago, the G4 well blew out endangering the lives of the 238 workers on the complex at the time, 219 of whom were forced to flee within the first couple of hours of the emergency, the remaining 19 going a few hours later. The HSE had also failed to identify that Total could not turn off the flame in the flare stack. This increased the likelihood of the blowing out gas igniting and destroying the complex. The HSE have completely failed to alert the offshore workforce to how and why the G4 well blew out. Lessons have not been learnt by those workers who stand to lose their lives during emergencies like this. No worker can be assured that this near catastrophe will not be repeated, but next time, without the good luck and favourable wind direction that avoided Elgin blowing up with Piper Alpha like results. Elgin has been up and running again for nearly two years now. The HSE report was only completed a year ago. Still there has been no decision taken on whether there should be a prosecution of Total. The findings of the HSE investigation have not been made public.