Statfjord East discoveredStorting debate on the “letter affair”

The NPD rejects Statfjord B

person By Trude Meland, Norwegian Petroleum Museum
The Statfjord Unit Operating Committee (SUOC) approved a final choice of concept for the B platform in late August 1976. Only then could the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD) conduct its own safety analysis.
— “New position on Statfjord”. Headline in Stavanger Aftenblad, 16 November 1976
© Norsk Oljemuseum

Its results were presented to the Statfjord licensees in a letter of 11 November 1976, where the NPD questioned the safety of an integrated platform and ordered the construction of a separate quarters platform tied to Statfjord B.

Statfjord B was intended to be a virtual copy of the A platform, but with four support shafts instead of three. The process facilities would be equally large and complex, with a production capacity of 300 000 barrels per day, and the 200-berth quarters module was to be installed on the platform.
 It was the last feature in particular which the NPD wished to prevent. The regulator took the view that cutting the number of people on the platform at any given time would reduce the overall risk.

As the letter indicates, the desirable solution was seen to be the construction of two platforms – one for production and drilling, and the other for accommodation. The NPD also emphasised the need for overall safety thinking, and wanted a separate safety study carried out before detailed planning began.

Statoil and Mobil expressed surprise at the letter, and claimed they had not heard that such assessments were being made.

On the basis of this letter, an extraordinary meeting of the SUOC was called on 26 November. It decided that all activities related to Statfjord B would be halted. The project would have to be re-evaluated, and extensive conceptual studies were to be carried out for every option from one to three platforms.

Work was delayed by a year and substantial costs were incurred through a number of conceptual studies and reports. According to Henrik Ager-Hanssen, deputy chief executive of Statoil, the letter from the NPD was the most expensive in Norwegian history and cost the project NOK 25 million per word.

Viewed from a different perspective, former Statoil staffer Bjørn Vidar Lerøen has noted that oil prices reached record levels over the next few years. That meant the letter became one of Norway’s most profitable.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Lerøen, Bjørn Vidar. Drops of black gold. Stavanger 2002, p 149.

To learn more, see: The Statfjord B letter.

Statfjord East discoveredStorting debate on the “letter affair”
Published November 21, 2019   •   Updated December 11, 2019
© Norsk Oljemuseum
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