ExxonMobil and drilling contractor handed safety notices after potentially fatal incident in Canada

ExxonMobil and drilling contractor KCA Deutag have until the end of September to address safety failings after a potentially fatal incident took place in May on the Hebron platform offshore Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada.

On 28 May this year, the US supermajor reported that when completing maintenance work on a crane on Hebron, a 6.8-kilogrammes piece of metal was projected 19 metres across the pipe deck, before striking the top of a handrail and plunging 21 metres to a walkway.

While nobody was hurt, the Canada Newfoundland & Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB) noted in a just-published report on the incident that no barriers were in place to prevent the metal object plunging to the walkway.

Both ExxonMobil and KCA have already started taking corrective actions to prevent this type of incident happing again, said the CNLOPB, which regulates upstream activities in the province.

However, the board’s chief safety officer also wanted them to improve training in the use of certain tools and plug gaps in management, health and safety systems.

The 28 May incident took place when maintenance was being carried out on a Hebron crane to extract a hydraulic pin using a puller rod and jacking equipment.

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During this operation, however, the puller rod and hydraulic jacks were exposed to tensile loads above their ratings.

On a fifth attempt to extract the pin, the puller rod – exposed to loads at least three times greater than it was designed to handle – fractured and plunged to the walkway.

According to the CNLOPB, one of the hydraulic jacks used was rated to 30 tons, but was exposed to 39.6-ton loads, while a 60-ton jack was exposed to a loading of 65.6 tons.

The CNLOPB found KCA personnel involved in the operation did not fully understand the loading limitations of the equipment being used and did not have enough instructions on how to handle this work.