Norwegian state oil company Statoil admitted late last week that it had underestimated the risk of inadequate maintenance at both its Mongstad plant on the West Coast and on it oil installation on the Troll field. An internal probe also revealed that both accidents last fall could have had fatal consequences.
As state officials also probe the accidents and sound alarms, Statoil claimed at a press conference on Friday that it’s taking both incidents very seriously. “For me, safety is more than just a word, I take it personally,” claimed a sombre Margareth Øvrum, in charge of technology projects and drilling at Statoil.
The Norwegian company suffered an unusual string of accidents last year, including three on the same weekend, and safety has become a major concern. The accidents came as no surprise to employee organizations that had warned of problems and criticized the company for a lack of maintenance. Statoil was even accused of cutting back on maintenance as part of its vigorous cost-cutting after oil prices fell.
Statoil denied repeatedly that it ignored safety issues, but now Øvrum said top management is not at all satisfied with what’s emerged in its own probe. Statoil’s reports on a serious gas leak at Mongstad and problems with a well on Troll to state petroleum industry regulators.