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Fulmar Fsu

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 to offshore operators on the United Kingdom continental shelf consequent on the incident in the week of 25 December 1988, when the Fulmar FSU broke loose from its moorings; if he will publish a copy of 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 Fulmar FSU breaking loose from its moorings in the week of 25 December 1988; what was the loss of production caused by this incident; and what technical changes have been advised or required of operators of this and similar operations, to prevent a recurrence and earlier warning of serious incidents.

The Fulmar FSU broke loose from its single anchor leg mooring buoy when critical latch components at the base of the buoy fractured during severe weather conditions. The buoy was of a design unique on the UKCS and any lessons learnt are largely specific to it. As a result of requirements by my safety directorate, the operator has made a number of design modifications and has installed a new position reference system and a propulsion facility to enable the direction of drift to be controlled. In addition, my safety directorate laid down specific technical requirements prior to the reinstatement of the Fulmar FSU. Similar advice has been given to one other operator planning to procure a floating storage unit.My Department's investigation report will be sent to the procurator fiscal in Aberdeen and will form an integral part of his consideration of whether any prosecution should be initiated. It would not therefore be appropriate for it to be published.It is not expected that there will be any long-term loss of production as a result of this incident, but production of some 2ยท25 million tonnes of oil was deferred until later in the field life.

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what was the loss of oil spillage as a result of the Fulmar FSU breaking loose from its moorings in the week of 25 December 1988; what steps were taken to control the resulting oil slick; what arrangements were in place at the locus to deal with oil spills; what was the maximum spillage that existing facilities could contain; and what instructions or guidance he has given to operators as a result of this incident to improve the oil spill response capacity on the United Kingdom continental shelf.

Approximately 1,300 tons of oil were spilled following the incident. The oil slick was closely monitored by air and sea surveillance. No action was taken when it was found to have dispersed naturally.The standby vessel for the Fulmar FSU held a maximum of 5 tons of dispersant capable of dealing with 100 tons of oil.

Primary responsibility for responding to oil spills from offshore installations rests with the operators who are required to have oil spill contingency plans. The industry has a counter-pollution capability on a collective basis, and the resources of the marine pollution control unit of the Department of Transport are available for dealing with oil spills requiring greater resources than those provided by the industry. No additional guidance as a result of Fulmar FSU incident is considered necessary.