Norway Regulator: “Very Serious Shortcomings” In BP Safety

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December 1, 2011

By Katarina Gustafsson and Alexis Flynn

BP PLC’s (BP) efforts to monitor and respond to sudden pollution releases such as oil spills in the Norwegian Sea suffer from “very serious shortcomings” that demand immediate improvement, Norwegian regulators said.

Norway’s Climate and Pollution Agency, a directorate under the Norwegian ministry of the environment, in October 2011 performed an investigation during drilling at the Skarv field in the Norwegian Sea that revealed that BP could not document how they have designed preparedness against sudden pollution releases, the agency said Tuesday.

The report is the latest indication of health and safety issues at BP, which was plagued by a massive oil spill in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico in 2010 and by numerous other accidents in recent years. A BP spokesman had no immediate comment.

“We take this situation very seriously,” Bjorn Bjornstad, director of the agency’s department of control, water and international affairs said in a statement.

The October investigation uncovered deviations that included that BP had not established sufficient systems to detect emergency contamination within three hours. BP also could not prove that its preparations were based on national performance standards, the Norwegian agency said.

“Simply put, they were not good enough,” Bjornstad told Dow Jones Newswires, adding that the agency would impose stricter control on BP during 2012.

BP is now undertaking measures to correct the situation and the agency met with the energy major Friday to discuss the issue. The UK company told the agency what measures it will implement to comply with the regulations. BP will shortly present a written report to the agency on the issue.

The measures concerns both the Skarv field and future BP activities in Norway.

The Norwegian agency also said it is not satisfied with its follow-up of the preparedness for acute pollution when it comes to several other operators on the Norwegian continental shelf. The agency earlier this year had talks with both Norwegian oil and gas major Statoil ASA (STO) and French company Total S.A. (TOT) over the same issue.

-By Katarina Gustafsson, Dow Jones Newswires

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