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North Sea Rigs (Hollow Steel Structures)

Volume 984: debated on Tuesday 6 May 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he is satisfied with the testing of hollow steel structures built for use in the North Sea; what information has been gained from the accident to the Alexander Kielland rig; and what inspection and testing procedures he proposes to institute.

In the light of present knowledge I am satisfied with the present procedures for testing of structures, but this is a matter which is constantly kept under review. The Department of Energy is a major sponsor of an international research programme into the fatigue, fracture and buckling of welded steel offshore structures; the results of this programme are being incorporated into the survey requirements as they become available.The results of the Norwegian inquiry into the Alexander Kielland accident which is continuing are not yet available. Close contact is being maintained with the Norwegian authorities and Department inspectors plan to visit Norway this month to review the progress of the inquiry. The report of the inquiry into the Alexander Kielland disaster will be considered in any future reviews of safety standards.At present there is no evidence on which to base changes in the inspection and testing procedures involved in the certification of offshore structures required by the Offshore Installations (Construction and Survey) Regulations 1974.