Authorities probe oil rig fire and leaks

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Norway’s state regulator of the oil industry, Petroleumstilsynet, claimed on Monday that workers could have been killed over the weekend when two gas leaks and a fire broke out on three of Statoil’s offshore installations. They intend to launch a full investigation.

“We are taking all three incidents very seriously,” Inger Anda, director of communications for Petroleumstilsynet, told newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad. “All three are in a category where there was a high risk of a major accident.”

Anda also said that the fire on board the Statfjord A platform along with gas leaks on the Gullfaks A platform and the drilling rig Songa Endurance were all “serious enough that lives could have been lost.”

Petroleumstilsynet announced that a group of investigators were already traveling out to the Statfjord A platform on Monday, and would contribute to a police investigation into the fire in a pump inside one of the platform’s legs. It prompted the evacuation of most of the 67 people working on the rig when fire broke out Sunday morning.

“The goal of Petroleumstilsynet’s investigation is among other things to clarify the sequence of events and identify what set off the fire,” to learn from it, the agency stated in a press release Monday.

That fire on the Statfjord A followed a leak on the drilling rig Songa Endurance while it was working on the Troll field Saturday morning. On Sunday afternoon, a leak also occurred on the Gullfaks A platform, a field that has had problems in the past. Around 20 workers on the Songa Endurance were taken off the rig, while all 210 people on board Gullfaks A who didn’t have special crisis duty were ordered into the lifeboats.

Labour organizations representing offshore workers have long warned of safety concerns and rig maintenance at a time when the oil industry has been cutting costs because of low oil prices. Statoil and other rig operators have insisted safety is not being compromised in the cost-cutting.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund