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UK – Uncontrolled Gas Leak On North Sea Platform ‘Could Have Caused Catastrophic Blast’

TalismanA corroded pipe on a North Sea platform which caused a potentially explosive leak was flagged in an inspection as early as 2009.

The incident at Talisman’s Saltire facility happened in a pipe the oil firm had reported was redundant. However, the pipe was still in use as gas utility service line.

A 2009 report highlighted that the pipe had suffered “significant external corrosion” but the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said Talisman “did not act on its own inspection report”.

In an enforement notice issued on August 29 – but only released publicly on Wednesday – the watchdog said the problem developed to the point that a hole formed, which caused an uncontrolled release of gas on August 8.

The HSE said the leak resulted in a risk of fire or explosion.

In an improvement notice issued to Talisman, HSE inspectors said: “You have not taken appropriate measures to prevent fire and explosion in that your pipework inspection activities, which are intended to prevent the uncontrolled release of flammable substances because of external corrosion.

“[You] have not been effective in that your report states that it is a redundant line, when in fact you continued to use it for gas utility service.

“Furthermore you did not act on your inspection report of 2009 for this line, which identified that it was subject to significant external corrosion.

“This corrosion then developed to the extent that on August 8 there was an uncontrolled release of hydrocarbon gas through a hole that had formed through the side-wall of the line, thus resulting in a risk of fire or explosion.”

A Talisman spokeswoman said: “None of our personnel was injured as a result of the release and the installation, which was not in full production at the time, was shut down in a controlled manner.

“A full inspection was carried out to ensure the cause of the issue was identified, along with any remedial actions required to prevent a re-occurrence.

“The safety of our people is of paramount importance and eliminating hydrocarbon releases remains a top priority for our company and for the energy industry as a whole.”

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