The audit was conducted from 21 to 24 September 2020.

Background

The PSA is responsible for setting the terms for maintaining a high level of health, safety and the environment (HSE) in the petroleum industry, following up compliance with these by the players, and thereby contributing to maximising value for society.

This follow-up is system-oriented and risk-based, and supplements the industry’s own follow-up. The PSA’s supervision methodology is largely based on verification of selected facilities, systems and equipment. For that reason, its observations may be equally relevant for other facilities, systems and equipment.

Purpose

The purpose of the audit was to check compliance with relevant regulatory provisions. Particular emphasis was given to the way Equinor works on major accidents and electrical safety. Elements also related to the company’s handling of the Covid-19 position.

A further goal was to follow up Equinor’s work after last year’s major accident audit by the Norwegian Industrial Safety and Security Organisation (NSO), and the 2017 audit of electrical installations at Hammerfest LNG.

Results

The audit revealed that Equinor lacked a systematic approach to utilising and implementing the handling of nonconformities – both those identified earlier by the PSA and conditions the company itself has identified.

It found in part that several nonconformities earlier noted by the PSA, and which Equinor had responded that it would deal with, had not been corrected or followed up in accordance with its response. The impression was that the company is not adequately handling or compensating for identified weaknesses/nonconformities while awaiting a permanent improvement.

The 2017 audit registered that Equinor faces capacity challenges in terms of personnel qualified to carry out maintenance assignments on electrical installations. Following this audit, the company had initiated measures to overcome these challenges. Now, however, the PSA found that the plant was experiencing similar challenges with the support (engineering) department in the electrical and instrumentation disciplines.

All observations made in the audit are based on random sampling, and thereby do not necessarily give a full picture.

Follow-up of earlier nonconformities

As part of its audit, the PSA investigated how Equinor has dealt with certain earlier nonconformities and improvement points identified in the 2019 major accident audit and the audit of electrical installations at Hammerfest LNG in 2017.

The PSA found that the following nonconformities and improvement points had not been handled in accordance with the company’s responses to the 2017 audit of  31 August 2017 and 27 December 2017:

  • nonconformity concerning door monitoring in electrical distribution substations
  • nonconformity concerning emergency lighting
  • nonconformity concerning handling of nonconformities
  • improvement point on electrical installations – technical conditions
  • improvement point on routines for temporary equipment

Nonconformities and improvement points

This audit identified five nonconformities from the regulations as well as two conditions we have chosen to categorise as improvement points.

The nonconformities cover

  • Handling of nonconformities. Equinor has failed to follow up that all the elements in its own management system related to follow-up and handling of nonconformities function as intended. The audit registered an absence of correction and follow-up of conditions previously identified by the PSA as well as ones identified by the company itself.
  • Risk management. Deficiencies were found in Equinor’s management of contributors to major accident risk at the plant.
  • Capacity and expertise. The responsible party lacked sufficient staffing and expertise in the technical department for the electrical and instrumentation disciplines.
  • Emergency lighting system. Deficient design of the emergency lighting system.
  • Technical conditions in the field. Deficiencies in oversight and handling of technical conditions in the field.

The improvement points related to lack of clarity with regard to monitoring the electrical installations in the event of a power cut and to manifesting the role of the responsible party for the electrical installations.

Order

The audit identified serious breaches of the regulations with regard to handling of nonconformities. Equinor has therefore been issued with the following order.

Pursuant to section 69 of the framework regulations on administrative decisions, see sections 6, 21 and 22 of the management regulations on management of health, safety and the environment, on follow-up and on handling of nonconformities respectively, Equinor ASA Hammerfest LNG is ordered to:

- Review the company’s system for registering and following up identified nonconformities so that their causes are identified, remedial measures are implemented to prevent the nonconformities recurring, the nonconformities are corrected and the effect of the measures is evaluated.
The review must also cover the company’s systems for systematically assessing and initiating compensating measures until the nonconformity is corrected. Assurance must be obtained that the company’s systems for handling of nonconformities comply with the regulatory requirements. See section 22 of the management regulations on handling of nonconformities.
- Review identified nonconformities at the plant to ensure that these are handled in accordance with the regulatory requirements. See section 22 of the management regulations on handling of nonconformities. Assurance must be obtained that the findings and weaknesses are handled systematically. See section 5.1.1 of the report on handling of nonconformities.
- Implement necessary measures which ensure that the company’s systems for registering and following up nonconformities are complied with.

The deadline for compliance with the order is set at 1 June 2021. We must be notified when the order has been complied with.

Where the other nonconformities are concerned, the PSA has requested Equinor to explain how these will be dealt with. It has also asked the company to give its assessment of the improvement points which have been observed. The deadline for responding to these requests has been set at 11 December 2020.