On 16 December 2020, an incident occurred at Snorre B that resulted in an emergency shutdown due to a high level of liquid in a flare knockout drum.
The incident arose due to an unstable oil level gauge in a produced-water degassing tank. This resulted in the degassing tank shutting down. In an attempt to stabilise the processing facility and keep production running, automatic shutdown functions for high liquid level in both the degassing tank and flare knockout drum were overridden.
In our dialogue with Equinor following the incident, information has emerged that has created uncertainty as to whether safety functions in some cases may be overridden, as was done for the degassing tank in this case, in order to maintain stability in the processing facility. This is not compliant with the requirements in the Activity Regulations, section 26 concerning safety systems.
We look seriously at safety functions being overridden in an incident, since this results in barriers that were established to handle the incident being removed when the incident occurs. We have therefore issued the following order:
Pursuant to the Framework Regulations, section 69 concerning administrative decisions, with reference to the Activities Regulations, section 26 concerning safety systems, Equinor is ordered to review its internal requirements and established routines for its facilities in order to ensure that overriding of safety systems is performed in accordance with the regulatory requirements.
Equinor has been given a deadline of 9 April 2021 to comply with the order.