Encana, Deep Panuke probe system failure in platform fire1/21/2013
A fire on the Deep Panuke natural gas production platform off the coast of Nova Scotia on Saturday forced the evacuation of non-essential personnel.
The automatic fire-supression system on the platform did not work properly.
“We do know that there was a challenge with the supression system,” said Tanya Taylor White, a spokeswoman for the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board.
She didn’t have any details on what went wrong with the fire-supression system.
That will be among details now being probed by Encana and SBM Offshore, the Deep Panuke platform’s owner, which is operating it on behalf of the Calgary-based natural gas giant.
“The fire-supression system didn’t engage as it should have and so that will be part of the investigation,” Taylor White said.
Firefighters on the Deep Panuke platform responded to the fire, Taylor White said.
“There are redundancies built into emergency and safety systems so having the personnel respond as they were trained is one of those built-in safety redundancies,” she said.
Three helicopters lifted 46 people off the platform Saturday, located about 250 kilometres southeast of Halifax.
“There was a small electrical fire happening on Saturday and we immediately, of course, put everything in place to stop it,” Anne Guerin-Moens, a spokeswoman for SBM Offshore, the Deep Panuke platform’s owner, said Monday in a telephone interview from Paris.
“Security and safety being our priority, we de-manned 46 people which were non-essential personnel at that time.”
That was a “precautionary measure,” she said.
She couldn’t say how many people were left on the production platform, which lost power due to the fire.
“There were no injuries. The power has now been restored on the platform,” Guerin-Moens said.
Power was restored to the platform on Sunday, she said.
Experts from SBM and Encana are now investigating the “root cause” of the fire, Guerin-Moens said.
“They are on the platform now,” she said.
The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board “will be monitoring the investigation completely,” Taylor White said.
“We’ll be made aware of the results and monitoring that very closely.”
Encana, which had been expecting first gas at Deep Panuke by the end of last year, announced more delays earlier this month. That news came after problems were found during the commissioning stage of the offshore platform.
SBM has said repairs won’t be completed until some time during the first half of this year.
It’s too soon to tell whether the fire will cause further delays, Guerin-Moens said.
“We’re doing the full investigation and we’re working hand-in-hand with Encana on this,” she said.
Encana spokeswoman Lori MacLean also said it was too soon to say whether the fire will cause further delays.
“The main thing is the safety of the personnel offshore and getting through this investigation to find out what exactly happened and that’s where the focus is right now, as it should be,” MacLean said.
“It’s important to understand why this happened and to fix why it happened and to ensure the safety of people working offshore.”
Documents obtained last month by The Chronicle Herald show that last May SBM prepared an operational readiness audit of electrical equipment in hazardous areas that identified more than 10,000 pieces of gear that needed to be reinspected before Deep Panuke could begin producing natural gas.
SBM said it has acted on that recommendation.
Progress is being made on the Deep Panuke platform, MacLean said.
“It’s a step-by-step process,” she said.
“The main thing is safety for people working offshore and ensuring the platform is safe for when it comes time to introduce hydrocarbons.”
(The Chronicle Herald)