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Notification of order after investigation into hydrocarbon leak on Gudrun

The PSA has completed its investigation into a hydrocarbon leak on the Gudrun facility in the North Sea on 18 February 2015. Serious breaches of the regulations have been identified, and the PSA has now given operator Statoil notification of an order.

The direct cause of this incident was a leak from a rupture in a two-inch pipe in the bypass line directly downstream of the first-stage separator. Statoil estimated the initial leak rate at eight kilograms per second (kg/s). Condensate from the first-stage separator leaked to the open air.

Actual consequences
The total emission/discharge is estimated at 2 800 kilograms/four cubic metres of condensate, and more than one cubic metre is estimated to have been discharged to the sea. The leak on Gudrun is regarded as one of the larger hydrocarbon escapes recorded on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS) over the past decade.

The incident did not cause personal injuries.

Potential consequences
In slightly different circumstances, the incident could have resulted in a major accident with loss of life, substantial damage to material assents and consequences for the marine environment.

The PSA’s investigation has identified serious breaches to the regulations. These nonconformities cover:

  • weaknesses in Statoil’s fulfilment of its responsibilities
  • insufficient robustness in the design
  • deficiencies in information management and competence
  • inadequate information at shift and personnel changes
  • weaknesses in experience transfer and learning
  • execution of work on electrical installations.

Several of these nonconformities also involve weaknesses in management follow-up to ensure that activities are conducted in an acceptable manner.

On the basis of the findings made by its investigation, the PSA has given notification of the following order:

Pursuant to section 69 of the framework regulations on administrative decisions, see also sections 6, 15 and 21 of the management regulations on management of health, safety and the environment, on information and on follow-up respectively, Statoil is ordered to ensure that management of health, safety and the environment in the operation of Gudrun embraces the activities required to identify, risk-assess and deal with signals from the process plant during operation and to take the necessary measures. Furthermore, it is ordered to ensure that knowledge and necessary information from key specialist teams are conveyed in a systematic and appropriate manner to the operations department, and that such information is applied in every phase.

The deadline for complying with this order is set as 1 June 2016.

Explanation of the terms “order” and “notification of order”

An order is an administrative decision made pursuant to the regulations. Before we issue an order, we generally send a "notification of order" to the affected companies.

A notification of order is neither an instrument nor a notice of sanctions, but a step in our administrative process in which we request the party to assess the factual basis. The notification is only a first step before an administrative decision is made.

An order is a strongly preventive instrument which is legally binding on the recipient.


Øyvind Midttun, press contact
Email: oyvind.midttun@ptil.no | +47 51 87 34 77