Gudrun Failure Could Have Been Fatal

By MarEx 2015-05-21 00:44:31

On February 18, 2015 a condensate leak occurred on the Gudrun platform in the North Sea. The incident has been investigated by Statoil’s corporate investigation team which classifies it to be of the highest degree of seriousness.

In the morning of February 18 noise and vibrations were reported on Gudrun. Shortly afterwards hydrocarbons were confirmed in the process module.

There was a 2mm wide crack extending approximately 90 percent across the circumference of a two-inch pipeline. Condensate had leaked from the pipeline and resulted in gas distribution. The actual leak rate is calculated to be around 8 kilogram/second.

The volume of condensate from the leak was estimated to be four cubic meters.

No one was injured as no personnel were present in the area. However, the investigation concluded that the outcome could have been fatal if anybody had been exposed to the leak. A gas leak of this size represents a major incident potential if ignited.

“The condensate leak on Gudrun was serious with major incident potential,” says Øystein Arvid Håland, senior vice president of safety and sustainability of development and production Norway.

“Statoil is working systematically on gas leak prevention, and the learnings from this incident shall be translated into specific actions. We must ensure that these efforts help prevent future incidents.”

Level valve

Based on material technical investigations the crack was the result of fatigue and overload. An under-dimensioned level valve led to vibrations in the valve itself and in the surrounding piping system during regular plant operation.

The vibrations resulted in loss of level valve control. The loss of valve control caused repeating powerful vibrations and strokes in the piping system which exceeded the design capacity.

No material defects, metallurgical irregularities or welding defects have been proven. The investigation team believes that pure chance prevented a full pipeline break.

The gas detectors recorded the leak, ignition sources were disconnected and the deluge system started automatically, as did the pressure relief system and the emergency shutdown system.

“I am glad that no one was injured,” says Bente Aleksandersen, senior vice president of the operations south cluster of development and production Norway.

“The investigation gives us valuable information to learn from and it is our responsibility to use this information both in Statoil and towards the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSAN) and other players in the industry to prevent a recurrence of this type of incident. When the leak occurred, the emergency response system functioned as intended.”

The full report (with an English summary) is available here.

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EUNAVFOR Med Established to Foil Traffickers

By MarEx 2015-05-21 00:29:20

The E.U. Council has agreed May 18 to establish an E.U. military operation EUNAVFOR Med to break the business model of smugglers and traffickers of people in the Mediterranean. This decision, which is one element of the comprehensive E.U. response to the migration challenge, will enable the formal start of the operational planning for the naval operation.

EUNAVFOR Med will be conducted in sequential phases and in accordance with the requirements of international law. Planning of the operation and the initial phase of surveillance and assessment of human smuggling and trafficking networks in the Southern Central Mediterranean will be conducted as soon as possible. The second and third phases of the operation would work to search, seize and disrupt the assets of smugglers, based on international law and in partnership with Libyan authorities.

The operational headquarters of EUNAVFOR Med will be in Rome and Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino (Italy) has been appointed as Operation Commander. The common costs of the operation are estimated at €11.82 million for a two months start-up phase plus an initial mandate of 12 months.

The decision of the E.U. Council to launch EUNAVFOR Med was strongly welcomed by BIMCO, following the association’s statement on 24 April calling for an extension of Operation Triton’s geographical reach.

BIMCO’s April statement highlighted the risks to the health, safety and security of seafarers who assist distressed migrants in increasingly large numbers – and that merchant shipping is not equipped to handle the humanitarian crisis at sea caused by the levels of migration in the Mediterranean.

Giles Noakes, Chief Officer for Maritime Security at BIMCO, said: “It is reassuring to see the efforts of EU leaders continuing to address this crisis – and now beyond the search and rescue mission of Operation Triton – to help deal with the people smugglers and the business model that is building the humanitarian crisis of distressed migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.

“We understand that this is – legally and ethically – a complex issue for the U.N. and the E.U. to address, but it must be addressed for the sake of the refugees and the safety and security of seafarers and ships. Migration is a long term problem for nations to solve, but a fundamental aim right now must be to destroy the business model of people-smugglers.

“The stated intention of EUNAVFOR Med to search, seize and disrupt the assets of people-smugglers – in partnership with Libyan authorities – is crucial to that aim and we welcome this announcement and future efforts on this.”

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