The latter is subject of this post.
Article by Guardian
Ninety oil workers have been evacuated from a North Sea rig as engineers fight to control a huge build up of pressure in a well which critics say has the potential to blow-up the platform and cause a major environmental problem.
The Norwegian company Statoil has been pumping cement into an offshore well on the Gullfaks field in an operation similar to the one being attempted today by BP in the Gulf of Mexico.
The equivalent of around 70,000 barrels of oil a day of production from the Gullfaks C, Tordis and Gimle platforms has been shut down and more than 90 staff evacuated from the area, which lies in Norwegian waters.
The country's industry regulator said it was the third well control incident on Gullfaks in the past six months.
Jake Molloy, offshore organiser of the RMT union in Aberdeen, said the case also highlighted the continuing dangers of oil extraction off Britain's coast. He added: "The huge gas bubble under the Gullfaks has the potential to threaten the platform."
However, Statoil said today that the well was being brought under control. "We had a build-up in pressure and the barriers (through the blowout preventer) worked as they should. We are now pumping cement into the well and the pressure is starting to fall," said Kai Neilsen, a spokesman for the oil group in London.
Nelson said the previous incidents on Gullfaks had not been serious but Inger Anda, a spokeswoman for Norway's Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA), said a well "kick", reported in December, was serious. A further incident on 30 April this year – also a gas kick caused by high pressure – was brought under control quickly.
Anda said the authority was having daily meetings with Statoil until the latest problem was resolved.
Gullfaks C started production in 1990. It is one of three large concrete-legged platforms comprising the huge Gullfaks development and stands in water 217 metres deep – much shallower than BP's Deepwater well in the Gulf. The unit taps oil from the Tordis field as well as taking in supplies from the Gimle and Skinfaks satellite fields.
The Bellona green campaign group said it was concerned about lax regulation in the North Sea. It described the Statoil field emergency as "very critical" and highlighted continued risks of offshore oil and gas exploration in the wake of BP's well blowout and environmental disaster off America.
"They have a situation in which there is uncontrolled pressure from the well, one of the barriers is gone and one barrier is left," said Frederic Hauge, head of Bellona, one of the leading environmental groups in Norway.
"Uncontrolled pressure is very serious and has the capability of being a large accident," he said, adding that in the first quarter of 2010, eight incidents took place in the Norwegian oil industry that could have had huge consequences. "That is very serious. Regulatory work in Norway may look nice from outside, but we have a lot of security issues in the Norwegian industry."
Article by The Foreigner
Continuing riskStatoil faces continuing problems over its Gullfaks C well. The company confirms it has control over the pressure and volume, but Bellona leader Frederic Hauge wants more detailed answers.
“It’s a serious incident that should be investigated by the police,” he says.
Last week, 89 people were evacuated after a change in well pressure was detected. The remaining 140 crew fought to gain control by, amongst other things, pumping major volumes of drilling mud into the well.
Gisle Johansen, Statoil’s press spokesperson, says things are looking much better now, and the next phase will be to normalise pressure in the well with a concrete plug.
“But the situation won’t be clarified and brought back to normal before the last safety barrier is in place,” he tells Bellona.
Hauge believes this continues to make the situation serious, as there’s still a risk of an uncontrolled blowout without the so-called BOP (blowout preventer).
ReluctantBellona alleges Statoil has withheld information. The company won’t reveal how much drilling mud was used.
It’s also only recently confirmed the drill string is wedged in the well, despite the fact Bellona allege the organisation has known about it since Friday.
“Statoil’s been reluctant to comment about exactly what’s going on out on the platform. We feel such knowledge is in the public’s interest,” says Hauge.
Johansen reasons this wouldn’t have been appropriate whilst some uncertainty about what was happening remained.
GreedyThe Petroleum Safety Authority (PSA) believes whilst Statoil handled the situation properly in this case, it was still serious.
“We have the impression that company has taken the situation seriously and looked for best solutions to resolve the problems. However, it will still be natural for the PSA to investigate what happened on Gullfaks C, as well as how,” says their press spokesperson, Inger Anda.
Frederic Hauge believes it’ll end up being investigated by the police anyway.
“We believe Statoil has operated beyond what is acceptable, and in their greed has taken unnecessary risks in a difficult reservoir,” he tells Stavanger Aftenblad.