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Investigation of incident on West Epsilon 14 September 2007 with notification of order

On 14 September 2007, a 30" casing weighing 8.5 tonnes fell down on the drilling hut on the mobile facility West Epsilon, owned and operated by Seadrill Management AS (Seadrill). The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway has investigated the incident. It is grave that several of the underlying causes are identical to those in lifting incidents experienced by Seadrill on Gyda in 2002 and on Statfjord C in 2005. On the basis of our discoveries, we have issued a notification of order to Seadrill and Weatherford Norway AS (Weatherford).

The incident took place during exploration drilling for Statoil ASA in the northern North Sea, in connection with the conclusion of well 16/2-3.

Link: Consent to carry out exploration drilling with West Epsilon

Course of events
A process was underway to pull, disassemble and lay down a 30" casing on the deck when the lifting collar (elevator) opened up and the casing fell out and down on the drilling hut. The casing, which was approx. 12.6 m long weighed 8.5 tonnes, crushed the roof of the drilling hut, and the end of the casing ended up in the driller's chair.

The driller sitting in his chair in the drilling hut, managed to get out and only suffered minor lacerations. Another person, also in the drilling hut, also received minor injuries.

The direct cause of the accident was that the lifting collar was not properly closed and locked when the casing was lifted. Weatherford is the supplier of the lifting collar.

The underlying causes were deficiencies in the design of the drill floor, construction of the lifting collar, operating instructions, follow-up of safety notices, competence, planning and implementation, deficient management and breach of procedure.

It is grave that several of the underlying causes are identical to those in lifting incidents experienced by Seadrill on Gyda in 2002 and on Statfjord C in 2005. The incident in 2002 resulted in a fatality, and the incident in 2005 resulted in serious personal injury. Statoil was also the operator during the incident in 2005.

After these events, Seadrill was ordered to implement measures to correct the identified non-conformities. This incident shows that the measures have not been sufficient.

On the basis of our discoveries during the audit we have issued the following notification of order to Seadrill:

Pursuant to Section 3 of the Management Regulations relating to management of health, environment and safety, Seadrill Management AS is ordered to review the reports and the orders given after the incidents on Gyda and Statfjord C, as well as Chapters 5.1.6, 5.1.8 and 5.1.9 of this report. On the basis of this, the company must:

  1. Identify the causes of the non-conformities in connection with this incident.

  2. Evaluate why previous measures have been insufficient.

  3. Establish a binding schedule and plan for correcting the matters identified under Items 1) and 2), and describe how the planned measures are to be verified.


The process must be quality assured by an independent third party.

The plan referred to under Item 3) must be presented to the PSA no later than 17 December 2007.

We must be notified when the order has been complied with.

We have given Weatherford Norge AS the following notification of order:

  1. Pursuant to Section 9 of the Facilities Regulations relating to design of facilities and Section 18 of the Activities Regulations relating to start-up and operation of facilities, we order Weatherford Norge AS (Weatherford):
    - to ensure that this type of lifting collar complies with the regulatory requirements so that possibility of human error is limited, cf. Chapter 5.1.2 of the report.
    - to ensure that satisfactory operating instructions for these lifting collars are prepared and that the operating instructions are available during use, cf. Chapter 5.1.3 of the report.

  1. Furthermore, we order Weatherford to carry out necessary compensating measures until the non-conformities are corrected, cf. Section 20, third subsection of the Management Regulations relating to handling of non-conformities.

    The order includes all lifting collars the company has sold for use in the Norwegian petroleum activities, as well as all lifting collars the company rents out.
  2. Pursuant to Section 12 of the Management Regulations relating to information , we order Weatherford to review and revise its system for obtaining, adapting and communicating information, cf. Chapter 5.1.4 of the report

A binding plan and schedule for implementing the orders, including which resources will be used in the work, must be submitted to the PSA no later than 17 December 2007.

We must be notified when the order has been complied with.

Any comments to the notification from Seadrill and Weatherford must be received by us no later than 27 November 2007.

We have, in a letter to StatoilHydro, requested an account of how the non-conformities identified during the investigation will be handled and the company's assessment of matters with a potential for improvements. The deadline for reply has been set to 15 December 2007.

Press contact in the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway:
Ole-Johan Faret
Telephone: +47 41 68 35 46