This story was originally published in The West Australian on 8 September 2017 with the headline "Fear of riser failure curbed crew access offshore." © Peter Milne.
Concerns about potential oil leaks caused the safety regulator to bar workers from an area of a floating production facility about 150km north of Dampier for over a week.
Access was not allowed to the turret area of the MODEC Venture 11 vessel, where flexible risers and chains anchored to the seabed are attached to the vessel, according to the prohibition notice on the NOPSEMA website.
An inspector from NOPSEMA issued the prohibition notice on August 28 and cited concerns that the integrity of a riser was unknown.
“The failure of a riser could result in the release of process hydrocarbons from the risers . . . which may result in fatalities in the turret area,” the notice said.
A NOPSEMA spokesman said the notice was lifted yesterday after a review of plans submitted on Monday satisfied the regulator that Japanese-owned facility operator MODEC had implemented measures to reduce the risk to as low as reasonably practical.
It is understood that the regulator and vessel operator worked together while the prohibition notice was in place.
MODEC constructs, installs and operates floating production storage and offloading vessels around the world.
The facility has produced oil from the Mutineer-Exeter fields since 2005, with additional production from the Fletcher-Finucane fields from 2013.
The fields are operated by Santos, with Kufpec and JX Nippon Oil and Gas holding additional equity.