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Audit of integrated operations associated with drilling operations on Oseberg Øst

During the period 31 January - 6 March 2007, the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) conducted an audit of how Norsk Hydro Produksjon AS (Hydro) manages activities and facilitation of integrated operations and drilling operations on Oseberg Øst. We identified two nonconformities in relation to regulatory requirements during this audit. The conversations conducted on board the facility gave us the impression that the climate of cooperation on board is good.


The audit was conducted in the form of presentations by Hydro and the suppliers KCA Deutag (KCAD) and Baker Hughes, through questions and clarifications following the presentations, as well as by interviews and verifications on board the facility.

This activity is Phase 3 of the PSA's follow-up of the modification project on Oseberg Øst. The PSA's follow-up activity started with a status meeting in Stavanger on 28 March 2006, followed by a construction site follow-up of a new mud module at Aker Kværner Egersund on 15 May 2006.

Background for the audit

Oseberg Øst (kilde: Hydro)Substantial modifications have been made to the Oseberg Øst facility (pictured) in the last couple of years in connection with preparations for a new drilling and well campaign scheduled to start in 2007. The modification project on Oseberg Øst includes a new mud module, expansion of the living quarters, replacement of lifeboats, new power pack and transformer module, extra recreation module, as well as some modifications in the drilling area.

In the previous drilling phase up to the summer of 2003, drilling fluid was supplied from the support vessel anchored at Oseberg Øst, which also provided additional capacity for storing drilling equipment as well as living quarters facilities. After the modification, all mud treatment and pumping will take place on board Oseberg Øst. Drilling without the support vessel entails a challenge as regards the number of persons on board.

The framework for the project, with a total of 62 available beds, has necessitated close and structured cooperation between Hydro and the contractors KCA Deutag and Baker Hughes. The cooperation has encompassed technical drilling modifications on board, establishment of cooperation rooms offshore and on land, as well as cooperation on new ways of organizing the work, training and cross-training. Integrated operations are a key part of the Oseberg Øst project, and this is also an area that the PSA will prioritize in 2007.

Purpose of the audit

The purpose of the audit was to follow up Hydro's management of the modification project on Oseberg Øst, as linked to integrated operations in drilling.

The audit included the following topics:

  • Organization
    - plans and status
    - interfaces Hydro/contractors/suppliers
    - organization and clarification of roles in the operations phase.

  • Integrated operations
    - coordination rooms and lines of communication
    - coordination and work processes Hydro/contractor/supplier.

  • Organization of work and expertise
    - consequence analyses - status and measures
    - distribution of responsibility and work
    - manning, competence, training and cross-training
    - management tools for operational limitations.

  • Drilling module and living quarters
    - design and modifications
    - working environment surveys; challenges and follow-up/measures
    - status drilling planning.

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Result of the audit

The audit was implemented as planned, with presentations, conversations and verifications. We noted an open and good dialogue with all involved parties, both in the meetings at Sandsli and on board the Oseberg Øst facility. Through our conversations on Oseberg Øst we got the definite impression that work satisfaction and cooperation on board were good.

Oseberg Øst was built as a small, integrated drilling and production facility. The facility has challenging framework conditions, with a maximum POB of 62 and limited deck area for storage of materials and equipment. There will be a marked increase in both the number of helicopter trips and vessel stops when the upcoming drilling phase gets underway.

In order to implement the upcoming drilling and well operations with reduced manning in relation to comparable facilities, Hydro, KCAD and Baker Hughes have carried out detailed analyses of the tasks. The manning has been determined on the basis of the tasks, with expanded job content for several position categories. Experienced drilling and well service personnel have been brought in from other facilities.

The companies have established a comprehensive training program amounting to a total of approx. 25,000 hours to accommodate the need for training and cross-training of personnel, also across the different companies. Prior to start-up of operations, a familiarization program will be carried out with training on board, after completion of a theoretical part on land. Our evaluation is that this work is comprehensive and well-organized in genuine cooperation among the involved parties.

Hydro's precondition for the operations is that it will spend the time necessary in order to safeguard HSE in the implementation of the activities. It is important that this is concretized and operationalized for the Oseberg Øst organization.

During the audit we identified two nonconformities in relation to regulatory requirements for implementation of a comprehensive HSE evaluation of the drilling area, and the resource situation in the operations department.

We have also identified improvement items linked to the safety delegate (VO) arrangement on board Oseberg Øst, the working environment in the mud module, available expertise and personnel, criteria for operational limitations in drilling, safeguarding HSE in new operational preconditions and the interface between the drilling contractor and the operations department.

We also have a few additional comments related to other factors.

Contact person in the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway:
Mike Theiss