By December 21, 2016 Read More →

Statoil says Sture oil terminal accident nearly killed staff

Sture oil terminal

In October, five people were exposed to hydrogen sulphide gas while doing maintenance work a the Sture oil terminal.  Statoil photo by Øyvind Hagen.

Five people, including two high school placement students injured in Sture oil terminal accident

OSLO, Dec 21 (Reuters) – An accident in October at Statoil‘s Sture oil terminal on the west coast of Norway, was highly serious and almost resulted in fatalities, the company said in a report on Wednesday.

Last month Norway’s government said it would appoint a public commission to review the safety of the oil and gas industry after a series of incidents at Statoil‘s offshore and onshore facilities raised concerns.

In the Sture incident five people were injured including two secondary school students on work placements after being exposed to hydrogen sulphide gas while carrying out maintenance work on a 14-metre tall concrete tank used for storing and cleaning polluted water, Statoil said.

“Within a short time three people lost consciousness. The other two managed to get down from the tank and shut off the air supply,” the company’s Statoil‘s investigators said, adding that injured staff had not immediately received treatment.

“The internal investigation report defines the (Sture) incident as having the highest degree of seriousness, and concludes that in other slightly different circumstances the incident could have resulted in fatalities,” Statoil said.

One of the five individuals was critically injured, one seriously injured and three individuals were slightly injured, Statoil said.

The Sture terminal near Bergen processes oil piped from the Oseberg and Grane fields in the North Sea before loading it onto tankers for export.

An accident at the Statfjord A platform was not as serious as the one at Sture, Statoil concluded in a separate investigation.

As falling oil prices force companies to cut spending, unions and Norway’s safety watchdog have suggested that cost- cutting could affect safety.

The risk of accidents rose last year after reaching record lows in 2014, a survey by the country’s safety watchdog showed earlier this year.

Statoil‘s own investigations did not find evidence of any link tying the accidents to the ongoing cost cuts and efficiency drives, Statoil said.

“But at the same time we get signals from different parts of the organisation that this is a demanding everyday life because of the new ongoing activities,” Statoil‘s Chief Operating Officer Jannicke Nilsson told a news conference.

Other accidents that occurred this autumn are still under investigation.

“In order to follow up the incidents Statoil has initiated actions to expand and improve the company’s safety effort, with particular focus on safety management, learning and collaboration, both across the organisation and in relation to suppliers and collaboration partners,” the company said.

(Reporting by Terje Solsvik and Stine Jacobsen; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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