Stena Drilling Pleads Guilty Over Fatal 2012 Rig Accident Off Australia

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August 27, 2015

Stena Clyde. Photo: Stena Drilling

Stena Drilling has pleaded guilty in Australia to charges related to a fatal accident on board its Stena Clyde semi-submersible drilling rig in 2012 in which two people were killed.

According to NOPSEMA, Australia’s national regulator for the offshore oil and gas industry, Stena Drilling Australia Pty Ltd plead guilty to one charge in violation of clause 9(4) of Schedule 3 of the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (OPGGS Act).

The incident occurred during drilling operations in Australian waters in the Bass Strait on 27 August 2012 and resulted in the death of the Stena Clyde floorman Peter Meddens and toolpusher Barry Denholm.

NOPSEMA CEO Stuart Smith said, “This prosecution has reinforced the requirement for an appropriate risk assessment system to be implemented for all stages of work. Workers involved should have an opportunity to contribute to this assessment including consideration of factors such as stored energy; equipment design limits; and, impact of external conditions.

“Communication is a key part of any work offshore and supervisors should verify that all workers involved in any task understand their role and any associated risks.

“All equipment utilized in planned work should be fit for purpose and in good working order. If the equipment is not working correctly, a reassessment of the risks associated with the work or task should be conducted,” Smith concluded.

NOPSEMA’s investigation identified that senior management on the Stena Clyde failed to apply the Stena management of change principles in failing to carry out a new risk assessment and toolbox talk after altering the original plan of works. In addition, Stena Drilling conceded that senior members of the drilling crew failed to ensure that a revised risk assessment had been carried out prior to implementing the new plan.

A statement from Stena Drilling Australia said:

Stena Drilling Australia very much regrets the tragic deaths of two highly regarded crew members, Barry Denholm and Peter Meddens, on 27 August 2012. This was a tragedy for the two men’s families and for everyone involved and our sympathy is with Barry’s and Peter’s families, friends and colleagues.

We have cooperated fully with the authority investigating this tragic incident and have taken all measures that we can to prevent a similar incident in the future.

Stena Drilling is committed to maintaining safe working practices on our rigs and we are constantly striving to ensure we have a safe work environment.

Sentencing is scheduled for September 3, 2015.

A NOPSEMA statement about the incident investigation can be downloaded HERE.

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