Gå til hovedinnhold

Well control incidents and the contractors' role

The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) summoned shipowners, drilling contractors and drilling service contractors to a joint meeting on Wednesday last week. The topic was the responsibilities and roles of the contractors in connection with risk of well control incidents on the Norwegian shelf.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss roles and responsibilities where the contractors can also contribute to reduce the risk of major accidents, especially as regards well control incidents.

More than 100 representatives from various companies participated.

Well control incidents study
Well control incidents are a key contributor to major accident risk in the Norwegian petroleum activities. The Montara accident off Australia in 2009, the Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 and the Elgin blowout on the UK shelf in 2012 have also provided reminders for the petroleum industry of the risk potential of well control incidents.

The PSA therefore commissioned a study carried out of key human, technical and organisational causes and measures in connection with well control incidents on the Norwegian shelf, as part of the work on the annual report Risk level in the Norwegian petroleum activities (RNNP 2011).

The purpose of the meeting was to review findings from the study and to discuss challenges that are particularly relevant for drilling contractors and well service companies, in their interface towards the operating companies. It was therefore important to gather key technical experts, decision-makers and the safety delegate service to exchange experiences and establish joint initiatives to reduce the number of well control incidents on the Norwegian shelf.

Four key challenges
The well control study summarises four key challenges facing the industry as regards reducing the number of well control incidents:

  • Stronger efforts as regards technical measures to achieve earlier detection of well control incidents
  • Increased attention to planning, barrier management and better adapted risk analyses
  • More focus on major accident risk – more investigation of incidents
  • Need to create framework conditions for good collaboration in the operator-supplier hierarchy

One of the challenges we discussed was the importance of investigation of well control incidents. In this connection, the importance of involving drilling contractors and well service companies in both investigation and design of improvement measures was emphasised.

Joint arena for exchanging experience
Feedback from the contractors also shows that there is a need for a joint arena where drilling and well service contractors can exchange experience.

Representatives from the Norwegian Shipowners' Association accepted the challenge from the PSA Director-General, Magne Ognedal, to take an active role in establishing such a joint arena.

Over the course of 2013, the PSA will follow up the companies taking a greater responsibility for reducing the number of well control incidents on the Norwegian shelf. We will consider summoning the parties for a similar meeting