Safety violations found on Melkøya
August 13, 2012
Norway’s Petroleum Safety Authority (Petroleumstilsynet) has uncovered a series of safety violations at the country’s showcase LNG facility, the Statoil-run plant on the island of Melkøya just off Hammerfest in Northern Norway. It’s the latest in a long series of problems tied to the huge and innovative facility that handles gas from Statoil’s Snow White field in the Barents Sea.
Magazine Teknisk Ukeblad reported that the safety trouble emerged during an audit by the authorities earlier this summer. Most of the problems that they cited involve shortcomings within fire safety installations.
“There were several discoveries and violations of the rules that involve critical safety equipment,” Inger Anda of Petroleumstilsynet (PSA) told Teknisk Ukeblad. “We’ve therefore issued orders for improvements.”
The authorities found, among other things, that studies of explosion danger hadn’t been updated since the plant was designed. It opened five years ago as the world’s northernmost LNG (liquefied natural gas) facility that brings gas to land from its offshore source at the Snow White field and then exports it.
Officials at PSA said they had received no documentation that the plant could withstand possible fires, citing several scenarios involving the plant’s torches, vents and ability to prevent the spread of a fire.
Statoil’s Snow White plant on Melkøya has had several other problems this summer and was forced to close in July following a leak. There also was a fire in late May in a CO2 ventilation chimney and the discovery in June of damage to a vent where liquids are captured.
Statoil and PSA officials were set to discuss the criticism this week, when Statoil officials would be given a chance to comment on the alleged safety violations. A Statoil spokesman told Teknisk Ukeblad that there was some “professional disagreement” between Statoil and the PSA, “but we will of course make corrections in line with the improvements PSA points out in its final report.”
Anda responded that PSA considers the report it already delivered to be final, and only open to “minor adjustments” based on reaction from Statoil.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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