The Falkland Islands maintain strong regulatory oversight on all oil and gas operations and its offshore safety regime is based on the North Sea’s Safety Case regulatory structure, recognized as one of the highest standards in the world, said the Falklands' government in a release following concerns related to technical issues on the rig Eirik Raude, currently operating in the South Atlantic.
Last week operator Premier Oil announced suspension of operations on the Isobel Deep well, to the north of the Falklands, following a technical problem with the drilling rig blowout preventer, BOP.
Partner Falkland Oil & Gas Ltd said FOGL said that the problem was detected after the 13⅜-in. casing was set, performed at a water depth of 1,274m, located on license PL004a and would be normalized in a couple of weeks. The well was spud on April 8, after success in the first drill at the Zebedee well.
The situation led to a wide media coverage particularly in Argentina with the government, which claims sovereignty over the Falklands/Malvinas, publicly expressing concerns about the potential effect of the oil industry on the Falklands environment.
Falklands' Director of Mineral Resources, Stephen Luxton, underlined that precisely the high standards of safety helped to identify the problem with the BOP, and at no point did the equipment enter an unsafe or inoperative condition which would have prevented satisfactory operation in the event of an emergency event.”
Finally the Falklands' government was categorical in assuring that drilling operations will only recommence when all well control systems are once again operating normally”.
On Tuesday the Falkland Islands government (FIG) said it noted media coverage including the announcement by the Government of Argentina expressing concerns about the potential effect of the oil industry on the environment of the Falkland Islands following media coverage of some technical issues on the rig ‘Eirik Raude.’
Offshore safety and environmental protection is a matter of utmost importance to the Falkland Islands Government, who maintain strong regulatory oversight on all oil and gas operations carried out within the Falkland Islands. FIG bases its offshore safety regime on the North Sea’s well-proven Safety Case regulatory structure, recognized as one of the highest standards in the world. FIG is highly focused on preserving the diverse and pristine natural environment, both for the benefit of future generations of Falkland Islanders, and to protect the economic activity from tourism and fisheries that rely on it.
To deliver this responsibility for environmental stewardship, FIG works very closely at all times with licensees, rig owners, and FIG’s own contracted offshore safety advisers. Regulatory intervention includes oversight of well designs and thorough review of the installation’s Safety Case, backed up by planned offshore safety inspections on all drilling platforms operating within the Falkland Islands Designated Area. Recent regulatory announcements by companies drilling offshore Falkland Islands highlight that this regime is effective and delivers a strong focus +on achieving offshore safety.
Stephen Luxton, Director of Mineral Resources said: “Through the continuous equipment monitoring process employed as part of the high standard of safety required, Ocean Rig identified a fault with the blow-out preventer which meant that some of the built-in redundancy within the control systems became degraded. Such safety systems contain multiple levels of redundancy, and at no point did the equipment enter an unsafe or inoperative condition which would have prevented satisfactory operation in the event of an emergency event.”
MLA Jan Cheek, Portfolio Holder for Mineral Resources, commented: “The high safety standards employed in the Falkland Islands demand that when critical equipment is in anything less than fully operational condition, operations that depend on the integrity of the equipment must halt while the issue is investigated and resolved. That process is currently underway, and is expected to complete within a few days. Meanwhile, for efficiency, the operator has requested and obtained consent from FIG to deploy the rig to carry out other operations within the licence areas that do not require the blow-out preventer.”
FIG can categorically assure the people of the Falkland Islands, and others with concern for preserving the pristine natural environment that is enjoyed by Falkland Islanders, that drilling operations will only recommence when all well control systems are once again operating normally. Offshore safety is a critical element in environmental protection.
The Mineral Resources Directorate of the Falkland Islands Government is the regulator of the hydrocarbons industry for the Falkland Islands.
Drilling rig ‘Eirik Raude’ is currently contracted by Premier Oil, Rockhopper Exploration and Falkland Oil & Gas to drill in the North Falklands Basin.
Falklands Oil & Gas issued a statement on 24th April 2015 confirming that drilling operations in the ‘Isobel Deep’ well were currently suspended whilst technical issues relating to the blow-out preventer were rectified, and that the company expected this to take 10-14 days.