Earlier this year, Marathon Oil’s North Sea business was issued with an improvement notice after its failure to inspect the integrity of an 8in high-pressure pipe on its Brae Alpha facility.
A failure in the pipe on 26 December 2016 resulted in an uncontrolled release of high-pressure hydrocarbon gas, causing significant damage to the surrounding area, according to a notice posted by the UK’s Health and Safety Executive.
It said Marathon had failed to remove the insulation of the pipework for inspection purposes since its commissioning in 1983, despite its own corrosion under insulation strategy, issued in 2014, which recommended the removal of this insulation at least every 12 years for inspection purposes.
Further, the firm had failed to act on findings from 2010 for the line. The findings instructed sample insulation removal of the pipework for inspection. A planned 2015 inspection of the pipework was also not carried out, the HSE said. “These failures exposed personnel on the Brae Alpha installation to an unacceptable risk of serious personal injury from fire and explosion,” it concluded.
The backlog of safety critical maintenance work on the UKCS has been growing year on year since 2010, well before the current down turn. At the same time, efficiency has been falling.