Bloomberg News

BP Ordered to Boost Safety Following Norway Probe Into Fire

January 09, 2012

(Updates with report details from seventh paragraph.)

Jan. 5 (Bloomberg) -- BP Plc was ordered to improve safety after being accused of “serious non-conformities” by Norway’s Petroleum Safety Agency following an investigation into a fire last July at the North Sea Valhall platform.

The fire was caused by a crane engine that overheated and blew sparks into flammable gases, creating a blaze that took more than an hour and a half to extinguish, the report said. While no one was hurt, the accident had the potential to cause injuries and the loss of life, the agency said.

“The PSA’s investigation of the incident has identified a number of serious breaches of the regulations related to BP’s management system,” the agency said in an e-mailed statement. “These relate to lack of maintenance, deficient maintenance management, inadequacies in risk identification and deficient barrier management.”

The findings are a setback for BP’s efforts to bolster safety at its operations worldwide after the April 2010 explosion at the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers and triggered the worst U.S. oil spill. Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley said the company had reached a turning point in the third quarter after temporarily shutting down 48 exploration and production operations across the globe to ensure higher standards were implemented.

‘Corrective Actions’

“A number of corrective actions have since been taken to ensure crane maintenance is upgraded and that there is no repeat, either on the Valhall platform or other BP Norway facilities,” London-based BP spokesman Mark Salt said in an e- mailed statement. “The company is always committed to learning from incidents in an effort to continually improve its performance.”

The Norwegian investigation took issue with the protection and maintenance of the crane engine, the fire detection system, and the management of work processes, according to the report. The agency ordered BP to take steps to ensure higher standards and set a Feb. 1 deadline for the company to submit a plan to improve deficiencies. The deadline for complying with the order is July 1.

The report found that safeguards against excessive temperatures on the crane weren’t in operation and that suggested maintenance hadn’t been done. An earlier report showed the alarm system wasn’t working in 2005, and BP couldn’t show documentation that it had been repaired.

The spark catcher and muffler for the crane hadn’t been maintained and was in “poor condition,” the report said. The cold water pump on the crane wasn’t regularly checked.

The fire detection system on the platform didn’t have continuous energy power, and the installation wasn’t equipped with permanent fire extinguishing systems, the report said.

BP resumed operations at its Valhall oil and gas field on Sept. 17, almost two months after the fire.

--Editors: Stephen Cunningham, Randall Hackley.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jonas Bergman in Oslo at; Brian Swint in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at

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