Major Offshore Gas Leak Gets Petrofac Slap On Wrists

Published at 10:31AM - 16/07/15

An investigation into a major gas leak onboard a North Sea platform ends with the operator Petrofac getting an improvement notice from the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The gas leak occurred on the 20th March this year onboard the Kittiwake platform, located approximately 100 miles (160km) east of Aberdeen.

The investigation into the incident found that gas was leaking for around 84 minutes, due to failures in the platforms fire and gas detection systems, the same systems that should of shut the platform down in such incidences.

The investigation heard that the gas leak was only stopped after a worker on the offshore installation smelt the gas from the other side of the platform and reported it.

The leak was found to have originated from the failure in the integrity of a steel pipeline.  Calculations have since put the total amount of gas that leaked from the platform at around 1670kg.

The investigation also found the main reason for the incident not escalating further, was only due to the wind present that day, dispersing the leaked gas. 

In a statement, the HSE said, “[Petrofac] failed to take measures to detect accumulation of gas following a major release on Kittiwake.” The HSE continued “The gas gushed into an external walkway but was partly dispersed by the wind and “rapid action” was taken to stop the leak once it was detected.”

The Health and Safety Executive has issued the platform’s operator Petrofac with an improvement notice.

Within minutes of the HSE publishing their report, the operators of the Kittiwake platform Petrofac said, “We fully accept the HSE’s recommendations and are working with them to further develop and strengthen our small bore pipework management and fire and gas detection systems.”

The Kittiwake platform has a normal POB of 70.  Oil produce is transported back via subsea pipeline to the Forties field before being transported back to the UK mainland.