NOPSA: Aussie gas industry primed for disaster
The National Offshore Petroleum Safety Authority has found that Australia’s offshore oil and gas sector is displaying early signs its headed for a serious incident.
NOPSA, which receives reports on all safety incidents from offshore producers, has found that the industry is on track to double the number of leaks and spills reported in previous years. NOPSA’s figures indicate that the industry has already hit last year’s total in June.
“The releases reported to NOPSA for the six months between January and June 2010(inclusive), are almost equal to the total for the entire 2009 twelve month period,” the safety regulator warned on Friday.
If the trend continues, this year’s uncontrolled release rate will surpass the five year record set in 2007 of 31.
Most of the 22 incidents are described as “pinhole type” releases which pose a minimal safety threat.
However, NOPSA is concerned because the high volumes of small incidents indicate a higher likelihood of more serious events downstream.
“These releases are often found to be the precursors of far more serious events,” it said.
Twenty of the 22 have been gas releases, 16 occurred on floating facilities, and three incidents have been releases over 300 kilograms.
NOPSA said the most common root causes were due to a lack of preventative and predictive maintenance, a lack of routine inspections, inadequate training, and failing to follow procedures. For example, several reports revealed that workers had over-tightened fittings, which led to the damage of equipment such as gaskets and seals.