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Audit at Ekofisk: Explosives and flammable goods

During the period from 26 April - 13 June 2007, the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) conducted an audit of ConocoPhillips Scandinavia AS (COPSAS). The audit covered the areas relating to explosives and flammable goods.


The audit was conducted in cooperation with the Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning (DSB) at COPSAS, with a kick-off meeting with the land organization on 26 April 2007, verification at Ekofisk from 14-16 May, and at the premises of the explosives supplier from 12-13 June 2007.

In connection with the audit we had conversations with relevant personnel, implemented an emergency preparedness drill and held verifications of documentation and facilities.

The following topics were emphasized in the audit:

  • Handling explosives offshore

  • Risk analyses

  • Competence

  • Barriers

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Background for the audit
The PSA shall set the standards for and follow up to ensure that the players in the petroleum industry maintain high standards as regards health, safety and environment, and thereby also contribute towards creating the greatest possible value for the Norwegian society.

The PSA shall also contribute towards reducing the risk level in the petroleum activities by following up to ensure that the players facilitate technical and operational integrity, as well as follow-up the interaction between man/technology/organization in HSE-critical systems.

In a reaction (explosion) even very small amounts of explosives (a few grams) will release large amounts of energy per time-unit. Therefore, the industry has established barriers so that incidents do not occur.

Purpose of the audit
The purpose of the audit was to ensure that regulatory requirements are complied with and that an identical letter sent to the industry in December 2002 has been followed up. This includes:

  • Planning and analysis of risk factors and control of explosives.

  • Procedures and training of responsible personnel offshore.

  • Handling of explosives (loading operations, drilling contractor and perforation contractor).

  • Verification of the explosives supplier's (Baker) management system, including qualification of equipment and systems utilized.

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Result of the audit
COPSAS often conducts activities at Ekofisk that include use of explosives, particularly on the 2/4 M facility. Only small amounts of explosives are used for each job and the manufacturing is done offshore. Manufacturing would normally be done in special workshops on land before the explosives are sent offshore. If the manufacturing is to be done offshore, documentation must be presented upon request showing that the risk is equal to or lower than for comparable manufacture on land.

The result of the audit indicates that COPSAS is not applying the identical letter sent by the PSA to the industry in December 2002. The highlighted improvement items on the part of COPSAS are factors that were mentioned in this letter.

We identified a nonconformity during the audit (deficient facilitation for quick and simple removal of explosives).

We also identified items where there is potential for improvement. For explosives, it is important to have effective barriers and to follow up their performance, ref. Section 2 of the Management Regulations relating to barriers. Our proposals include describing barrier requirements more clearly in the contract with the supplier, in addition to improvement of COPSAS' own procedure.

Contact person in the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway:
Mike Theiss