NOPSEMA investigating two incidents at Montara

THE offshore regulator (NOPSEMA) has launched two investigations into incidents aboard Jadestone Energy’s Montara platform after one worker was burned and another suffered an ankle injury within a few weeks of each other. 
NOPSEMA investigating two incidents at Montara NOPSEMA investigating two incidents at Montara NOPSEMA investigating two incidents at Montara NOPSEMA investigating two incidents at Montara NOPSEMA investigating two incidents at Montara

Helen Clark

Editor

Unions are now saying the latest incidents underscore a cost-cutting culture in Australia's oil and gas sector after two injuries recently at a Woodside FPSO and a terrifying near miss during a lifting gone awry at a Santos facility. 
 
The Singapore-headquartered company, which took over the Montara platform several years ago from PTTEP, was issued a direction over corrosion issues by the regulatorator in March this year and another over a spill at its Stag platform in November. 
 
A direction is more serious than a general notice. 
 
Jadestone Energy did not notify the offshore safety regulator after the worker was burned as the worker was not medevaced from the platform, so there was no legal compunction to do so. 
 
However the union group the Offshore Alliance, made up of the Australian Worker Union and the Maritime Union of Australia, filed an Occupational Health and Safety complaint on behalf of the worker once he returned to shore. 
 
According to the union group the marine engineer was burned by a boiler when he was working alone, after reportedly suggesting it was unsafe to do so. 
 
He suffered burns to roughly 30% of the front of his torso, with pictures circulating on social media showing the injuries. 
 
After leaving 36 hours later on the next available helicopter, the unnamed worker transitted six hours in Truscott before heading to Perth, ending up at the Fiona Stanely hospital burns unit. 
 
There have been suggestions he was medicated aboard the Montara and too "woozy" to make a decision or request medevac. Further comments suggest olive oil was poured on his burns at some point. Energy News has not verified these. 
 
Jadestone country manager Owen Hobbs told Energy News the worker had said he was fine and able to return to work. Jadestone's medic treated him, and he offered the support of its medical team in Broome. 
 
"We obviously have full paramedics on site and we were immediately in touch with our company doctor and it wasn't considered serious enough to warrant a medevac. The injured party wanted to continue work," Hobbs told Energy News today. 
 
"When we landed him back in Broome, we offered him the opportunity to come under treatment with the company doctor." 
 
Hobbs said the burns were largely first and some second degree burns from water temperatures around 60C-70C from a boiler that had been shut down for a number of days. 
 
 

 

 
It was being de-isolated at the time and had some "common lines' with the operational boiler. 
Water had apparently condensed in the vertical section he was working on. 
 
Union sources claim it was obvious that his injuries were third degree burns, which had to be treated by burns specialists at Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth. The injured party underwent skin scraping procedures, they said, adding that he should have been medevaced off the facility immediately, a spokesperson told Energy News today. 
 
"I think a more thorough risk assessment, including by him (was needed)," Hobbs said. 
 
"There were a number of faults, some with us, and we'll fix these faults to make sure this doesn't happen.  
 
"We investigated it and put in place measures to stop it from happening again." 
 
Jadestone does not yet have the exit reports from NOPSEMA. The authority confirmed to Energy News this afternoon investigations were ongoing for both incidents but could not comment further on a live investigation. No notice or direction has been issued. 
 
Hobbs said Jadestone had not heard from any legal representation on behalf of the injured party but he had filed for workers' compensation. 
 
Hobbs said the second incident was a badly rolled ankle, saying the company medevaced them off and it was reported to NOPSEMA. 
 
Hobbs said the injured party was lifting some equipment using designated lifting equipment and the equipment moved. He said a Jadestone investigation showed it was "probably" used incorrectly. 
 
Head of the AWU Dan Walton told Energy News the issue was emblematic of wider cost cutting across the industry, especially since the 2020 oil price crash and COVID. 
 
"What we've been seeing develop over a period is a drive to rescue costs across the industry," he said.  
 
"(There are) changes in head counts, corners cut in order to save a few dollars, near misses, accidents and injuries where you have a race to the bottom in terms of maintenance, cut back on capex.
 
"These incidents happen far more frequently." 
 
"We're not on top of this as yet this unfortunate feeling we're likely to see more accidents happen."
 
Walton says the burnt worker did not push for medevac as he was afraid of a possible blacklisting and said the anecdotal stories of workers speaking up never seeing full time employment again had discouraged others. 
 
"He was in a lot of pain.. And there is no way he was fine with everything and ok to go back to work and at no stage is that consistent with anything that was told to us," another union source told Energy News. 
 
Walton noted both the recently dropped object aboard Woodside's Ngujima-Yin FPSO that led to two workers being helicoptered off and a direction from NOPSEMA, and a lifting at Santos' Sinbad go horrifically awry, nearly killing rope access workers. 
 
NOPSEMA did not intervene in the latter as it was in state waters, a matter for the Western Australian government.