BP lacked basic safety in North Sea: Probe

September 15th, 2010 - 2:20 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Sep 15 (IANS) Much before the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, British Petroleum (BP) was subject to a probe which found that new staff at an oil rig in the North Sea were not trained to “basic safety standards”.
Britain’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) began an investigation following a complaint by a worker on the Clair rig off the Shetlands, near to where BP is about to begin deepwater drilling.

According to a British newspaper, the conclusions, sent to BP executives in a letter in October last year, found “training of some new personnel to basic safety standards was ineffective”.

The letter, obtained by The Daily Telegraph, said there was “evidence of a culture among your contractors, Seawell (up to senior levels of management), of working outside of procedures, permit or permit conditions”.

The HSE investigators criticised BP for its response to the inquiry, saying it “did not appear to identify the significance of issues raised by the complainant once they were put to you by HSE”.

The letter cited four examples of incidents on North Sea rigs in 2008 and 2009 where BP failed to learn lessons after investigations, the paper said.

A response to the investigation from BP central office told the HSE that its processes had been reviewed and improved by November.

Clair in its response to HSE said: “Your letter provoked consternation amongst the Clair offshore team, who strongly refute the allegations set out in your letter.”

A BP spokesman said: “Clair has an excellent safety track record and has recently achieved six years of operation without any injury that has resulted in a day away from work.”

Records show that four out of five of BP’s North Sea installations inspected last year were issued with warnings for failure to comply with regulations on oil spills.

Steve Rae, Seawell, VP International drilling, said that Seawell had cooperated fully with the investigations.

Better training was a recommendation in BP’s internal report last week into what caused its Deepwater Horizon rig to explode in April this year, killing 11 men and causing a massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

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