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Ninian Central

Volume 167: debated on Monday 12 February 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Energy (1) what advice he has given following the leak of gas, which occurred on the Ninian Central platform in the week ended 8 October 1988, to other operators on the United Kingdom continental shelf; if he will publish his Department's report into the incident; and if he intends to pass a copy of his Department's report to the procurator fiscal in Aberdeen for consideration of prosecution;(2) what was the cause of the gas leak which occurred on the Ninian Central platform in the week ended 8 October 1988; what remedial steps have been taken to prevent a recurrence; and what was the total cost of lost production of oil and gas as a result of the shutdown of the platform.

The incident was caused by undue manual force being applied when attempting to open a small valve. This resulted in the fracture of a drain line on a separator vessel, causing a high pressure discharge of condensate through a 0·75in hole. All similar drain connections on the operator's platforms were inspected and found to be in order.My safety directorate issued a safety notice (5/89) on 21 February 1989. This made it clear that owners of installations should take steps, including safety assessments and hazard and operability studies where appropriate, to ensure that their systems and procedures are adequate to prevent gas releases from pressurised systems and to provide effective fire and gas detection and water deluge systems.

It is not proposed to publish the report by my inspectors into this incident. Careful consideration was given to whether there were grounds for prosecution, but it was concluded that such action was not appropriate.

The total value of lost and deferred production was some £7 million in prices of the day, of which some 40 per cent. represented deferred rather than lost production.