During an operation to pull the drill pipe out of a well, a length of steel tubing 7.52 metres long and 2.7 tonnes in weight fell to the deck. A derrickman was struck, and only chance saved him from being killed. The pipe hit his hard hat and back, pushing him forward, and he suffered bruising and broken legs.
Two of his colleagues were in the vicinity and in the direction of the pipe’s fall – one was only a metre from the point of impact.This accident happened because the tube was unintentionally released as it hung vertically over the drill floor. The direct cause was that the driller thought he was halting the drilling rotation, but actually deactivated the mechanism which held the pipe upright. He was unused to the control panel design.
The PSA investigated the underlying causes, and concluded in part that the incident occurred because of breaches to the safety barriers intended to prevent it happening. A series of such barrier violations precede every accident – a single factor is seldom the sole cause – and the PSA identified a number of non-conformities.
These included inadequate management of the work, non-compliance with governing documents, and failure to identify and communicate contributory risk factors. Among others were the lack of a safe job analysis (SJA), failure to limit access to the drill floor during lifting operations, and inadequate crewing in the drilling area. Deficiencies in design and control of the drilling machinery were also identified. These non-conformities reflected failures both at Statoil and at drilling contractor Smedvig.
The PSA’s report pulled no punches, and emphasised that the incident could have caused fatalities under slightly different circumstances. Statoil was ordered to review and document that the workforce had sufficient expertise, and to go through the design and control of the drilling system to reduce the risk of errors.
A number of measures were adopted in the wake of the accident, including a radical tightening of the rules on movement in and out of the red zone on the drill floor. The PSA report also noted that a number of other serious incidents had occurred on the C platform. Less than a year earlier, in June 2004, Statoil had received a notice of an order related to mechanical handling operations there. Uncertainty had prevailed about the allocation of responsibility for these activities, and the governing documents were wholly or partly unknown to the crew.
Petroleum Safety Authority Norway. Gransking av ulykke med personalskade på boredekk Statfjord C 25.3.2005.
Stavanger Aftenblad, 15 April 2005. “Tre mann kunne blitt drept på Statfjord C”.
Stavanger Aftenblad, 10 May 2005. “Ledelsen sviktet Statfjord C”.
Stavanger Aftenblad, 10 June 2005. “Hydro og Statoil får det glatte lag”.
Stavanger Aftenblad, 8 July 2005. “Statoil får pålegg etter Statfjord-ulykke”.