Health and Safety Executive: ‘Oil and gas sector must crack down on dangerous leaks’

It said some oil and gas operators had come “perilously close to disaster”

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The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has written to the offshore oil and gas industry expressing concerns about the number and severity of dangerous fuel leaks.

It said some oil and gas operators had come “perilously close to disaster” as a result of unplanned hydrocarbon releases (HCRs) and added more needed to be done to tackle this problem.

The HSE suggested a “lack of leadership” was often to blame for leaks and called for firms to review their processes before July.

The letter was delivered ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster, which saw a platform explode in July 1988, killing 167 workers.

Chris Flint, the HSE’s director of Energy Division, said: “Every HCR is a safety threat, as it represents a failure in an operator’s management of its risks.

“I recognise the steps the industry has taken to reduce the overall number of HCRs, however HCRs remain a concern, particularly major HCRs because of their greater potential to lead to fires, explosions and multiple losses of life.

“If you get the safety culture right, staff will be much more likely to spot hazards, challenge when standards aren’t right, and be engaged in improvement.”

Oil and Gas UK CEO, Deirdre Michie, said the industry has delivered a substantial downward trend in the total number of HCRs since 2005 but that there is no room for complacency.

She added: “We understand why the HSE wants to highlight areas where industry can further improve and we continue to work closely with them to reduce hydrocarbon releases.

“The industry is committed to ensuring lessons are learned and good practice is shared, and look forward to using the results of this initiative to progress this important work.”

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