Stena Drilling Guilty Over Deaths Of Offshore Drilling Crew

Published at 03:02PM - 27/08/15

Multinational offshore drilling contractor, Stena Drilling, has pleaded guilty in an Australian court, over the deaths of two offshore drillers.

The case was brought to Victoria’s Magistrates Court by Australia’s national offshore regulator, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA), after the deaths of the two workers back in August 2012.

The incident occurred on the Stena Clyde, semisubmersible offshore drilling rig, whilst drilling around 62 miles (100 km) south of Port Campbell, Victoria, for Origin Energy Resources Ltd.

The investigation, conducted by NOPSEMA, found Stena Drilling to have breached its duty to provide a safe workplace for the two men, floorman Peter Meddens and toolpusher Barry Denholm.

Tragic Events

The event unfolded over the course of three days, starting on 24th August 2012, after the drill string became stuck down hole, during drilling operations. 

Various attempts to free the drill string had failed, so eventually the decision was made to start wireline operations, in order to cut the pipe downhole.

The preparations for wire line operations included removing the top drive from the string. As the top drive was rotated manual tongs, that were still attached, rotated and struck the two men who were stood on the drill floor.

Both men were said to have died shortly afterwards.

The NOPSEMA Investigation

In a released report, NOPSEMA claimed to have identified that the Stena Clyde’s senior management failed to apply the Stena management of change principles, failing to carry out a new risk assessment and toolbox talk after altering the original plan of works.

NOPSEMA also claimed that Stena Drilling conceded that senior members of the drilling crew failed to ensure that a revised risk assessment had been carried out prior to implementing the new plan.

CEO of NOPSEMA, Stuart Smith, said, “This prosecution has reinforced the requirement for an appropriate risk assessment system to be implemented for all stages of work. Workers involved should have an opportunity to contribute to this assessment including consideration of factors such as stored energy; equipment design limits; and, impact of external conditions.”

“Communication is a key part of any work offshore and supervisors should verify that all workers involved in any task understand their role and any associated risks.”

“All equipment utilised in planned work should be fit for purpose and in good working order. If the

equipment is not working correctly, a reassessment of the risks associated with the work or task should be conducted.”

Stena Drilling Statement

In a separate statement, Stena Drilling said, that it had cooperated fully with authorities investigating the incident on the Stena Clyde semisubmersible drilling rig and had taken “all measures that we can to prevent a similar incident in the future”.

“Stena Drilling is committed to maintaining safe working practices on our rigs and we are constantly striving to ensure we have a safe work environment,” the company said.