The Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) has issued an order to Equinor following an audit of the company’s integrated risk and barrier management on the Norne FPSO.
• The audit was conducted from 8-18 September 2020
• The audit report was published on 24 November 2020
• Notice of an order was given to Equinor on 27 January 2021
• The order was issued on 16 February 2021
The purpose of the audit was to follow up that Equinor’s risk and barrier management on Norne is robust, so that faults, hazards and accidents can be handled.
The PSA wanted to verify that Equinor, through its work on including technical, operational and organizational barrier elements in its barrier management, has established barrier functions which detect, handle and limit the consequences of maritime incidents on the Norwegian Sea field.
It looked in particular at barrier functions established to handle the risk of safety incidents not caused by vessel collisions. Attention was directed at assessing the strength of knowledge about and the residual risk in such stability incidents.
The audit identified eight nonconformities and seven improvement points.
The nonconformities covered:
• barrier management with a loss of stability
• establishing operational and organisational barrier elements, performance requirements and associated training and drills
• planning and prioritising observations in the Timp tool
• human-machine interface and alarm handling in the control room
• emergency preparedness analysis
• capacity and expertise
• obstacles in emergency exits
• assessing the consequences of the worst process fire.
The improvement points covered:
• management’s responsibility for following up and ensuring understanding of and use of information about risk conditions
• risk reduction principles
• using risk analyses of stability incidents
• involvement of the safety delegate service
• system for ensuring that lifeboats are available at all times
• MOB boat drills on the sea
• updating defined situations of hazards and accidents (DSHA)
Handling of nonconformities
Challenges with human-machine interfaces (HMI), a large number of standing alarms, and alarm avalanches have been identified as challenges for the central control room (CCR) on Norne since 2011, without these conditions being corrected.
Although an internal nonconformity is registered for alarm rates, Equinor has been unable to explain which compensatory measures are implemented to deal with this position until the nonconformity is corrected.
The unions and the safety delegate service on Norne informed the PSA in a letter of 11 January 2020 that concerns related to the CCR have been raised with the company over time, without this resulting in action.
Equinor’s response to the PSA’s report on its audit of the company’s risk and barrier management on Norne fails to provide an adequate answer to when and how measures will be implemented to correct nonconformities related to the CCR on the Norne FPSO.
The PSA has identified breaches of the regulations (see the report’s section 4.2 and chapter 5 with nonconformity 5.1.4 concerning HMIs and alarm handling), and Equinor has been given the following order.
Pursuant to section 69 of the framework regulations on administrative decisions, Equinor is ordered to:
• ensure that the requirements in OM101.08.06 on analysis of alarms in the central control room are implemented in order to reduce the alarm burden and the number of standing alarms, which will allow personnel with control and monitoring functions to collect and process information in an efficient manner at all times, see section 31 of the activities regulations on monitoring and control
• ensure provision of the necessary training and drills so that personnel are able at all times to handle operational disruptions as well as hazards and accidents in an efficient manner, see section 22 of the activities regulations on handling hazard and accident situations
• ensure experience transfer on handling alarms is received by Equinor’s facilities with central control rooms, see section 23, paragraph 3 of the management regulations on continuous improvement.
The deadline for complying with the order is 1 May 2021.