Equinor investigation: The Tjeldbergodden fire had the potential to lead to several deaths

Tjeldbergodden firePhoto: Øyvind Kvammen / NTB
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The internal investigation of the fire at Equinor’s facility at Tjeldbergodden in December last year shows that the fire could have had a very serious outcome.

Following the fires on Melkøya outside Hammerfest, in Troms and Finnmark, on September 28 last year, and on Tjeldbergodden in Møre og Romsdal on December 2, Equinor launched an internal investigation. No one was injured in the two fires.

The investigations have now been completed and submitted to the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway.

“The investigation group states that the Tjeldbergodden incident, under insignificantly different circumstances, could have resulted in very serious outcomes such as leakage and explosion of synthetic gas, with potential for several deaths, as several people were near the building where the fire occurred at the time,” Equinor wrote in a press release.

Lubricating oil caught fire

The fire at Tjeldbergodden was reported at 2:40 PM and took about an hour to extinguish. According to Equinor, it started in connection with a routine job when a steam turbine did not stop as it should have but rather increased in speed.

“This led to a breakdown in a connection between the steam turbine and a gear, resulting in heavy metal parts being thrown out – one of these punctured a pipeline of lubricating oil for the turbine generator. The lubricating oil ignited and caused the fire,” Equinor wrote.

The plant at Tjeldbergodden started production again on February 20 this year, and without operation of the steam turbine that caught fire.

Serious violations

The fire on Melkøya was reported at 3:30 PM and was only extinguished after eight hours. According to the investigation report, the reason was that the filters in a turbine air intake were self-igniting due to prolonged, excessive temperature. The fire was confined to the filter housing of a gas turbine generator.

The plant will be closed until March 2022 due to the scope of repairs to get the plant back to safe production.

The Petroleum Safety Authority of Norway’s investigation of the Melkøya fire, which was published in April, revealed a number of serious breaches of regulations at the plant. The audit has described the fire as one of the most serious incidents in Norwegian petroleum history.

Improvement work

Equinor wrote in the press release about the internal investigations that the incidents last year have triggered extensive improvement work in safety at the onshore facilities.

“We put in place early measures to ensure that similar incidents do not occur again. 

“The findings in both investigation reports will be followed up with further actions to strengthen safety work at the onshore facilities and in Equinor,” Irene Rummelhoff, Group Director of Marketing, Midstream, and Processing at Equinor, said.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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